Students in the Management Systems Engineering course at Oregon State University have been engaged in a virtual project aimed at managing development of energy solutions for communities in Nigeria. The class was divided into two companies – one face-to-face (Team 1), and the other virtual (Team 2). Each team included a CEO, Engineering, Research and Development, Accounting, and Marketing group. The teams were provided with a scenario that would closely mirror that of a start-up company focused on energy solutions in low resource environments – broad information and two contacts in Nigeria. Over the next few weeks, the groups will share posts on their experiences to-date and will entertain questions or comments on their progress. The first post is from the CEO group of the face-to-face team.
Team 1: CEO Group (Member/Author bios below the post)
Team Members: Cody Hicks, Phillip McBride, Tin Nguyen, Ashley Smith, Molly Winterrowd
Background: The Nigerian energy solutions project was initially very vague. Our team was presented with a general problem of power shortages in the Nigerian power infrastructure. Through collaboration with Nigerian experts the team was able to narrow the scope of the project to focusing on enhancing the backup methods currently used by the Nigerian population affected by frequent blackouts. Our team consists of three sub-departments (Engineering, Research & Development, and Accounting) and a CEO group.
Problem Conceptualization: Our initial impression of the project was that this team was trying to solve a massive infrastructure problem across an entire country. It was overwhelming and we did not know how to approach the problem. Our initial assumption was that each group would propose a solution to the entire energy infrastructure problem in Nigeria. This was unrealistic for the team to accomplish in one term due to the enormity of a project of this magnitude and the time it would take to fully implement our plans. We ended up discovering what was needed from us in this project after discussing our project with our Nigerian contacts and having a full team meeting.
Investigation and Scope Adjustment: After a combined meeting with all departments the team was able to gain more insight into the scope of this problem. Some members of the team were able to provide valuable information from past experiences with these types of problems. Their experiences come from their native countries where they have petroleum industries similar to Nigeria’s. This helped us gain valuable insight in the goings-on without having to look too deeply into other areas of research. Collectively as a team we decided that a large-scale infrastructure change was not feasible and we needed to focus on something achievable. This is where the team decided to narrow our efforts to enhancing the current backup power generation methods that exist in Nigeria.
Team Management: Areas of ambiguity have been clearly defining the roles of each department and when deliverables are due. Upon meeting with each other the CEO group was able to establish one member from each department to be the point of contact and communicate responsibilities and deliverables for that group. It fell in the hands of us, the CEO group, to assign tasks to each other department to ensure work was being done towards reaching a solution. Each week the CEO group sends out an email requesting each department group to complete a series of one or two simple tasks. It is then our responsibility to collect the information, then combine and summarize it and send it out to the department group leads. Clear communication and assignment of tasks was able to resolve any ambiguity.
Project Status: Since then, the team/group work has gone smoothly. The team is currently in the process of choosing a final solution to the energy problem, with all of the background research already done. The key factor to achieving this smooth workflow is openly communicating deadlines and holding the sub teams responsible for the information they are required to collect. Since we are all students and are not receiving any form of funding for this, every group member in the team is motivated by the grade we receive for our efforts. We trust the department groups with completing their tasks in a timely manner and we try to not interfere with their duties. Our CEO team will send out emails to the other departments with ideas to research, which coincide with our mission, vision, and values, and ask that they record their findings and submit them to us. Then we as a CEO group work to bring it all together and redistribute our decisions so that each department has a clearer understanding of what we are all working towards.
About the CEO Group:
My name is Cody Hicks and I am a senior majoring in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Business Management at Oregon State University. I am currently in MECOP on my second 6 month internship. I have experience working as a manufacturing engineer at Warn Industries and am currently working at Barenbrug, USA as an Industrial Engineer. My goal after graduation is to apply my unique mixture of engineering and management training to make contributions to operations as an Engineering Manager in a manufacturing company.
Hi! I’m Phillip McBride, a senior studying Industrial Engineering at Oregon State University (OSU). I have 7 years experience (one of those as team lead) working as an assembler at a manufacturing company. I worked as a manufacturing engineer during a 6-month internship through the OSU MECOP program at Climax Portable Machining and Welding Systems. In my quest for continuous improvement, I have found that each opportunity that is often a learning experience and I am becoming a better person each place I go. My future plans are to work as an operations manager in a manufacturing environment.
My name is Tin Nguyen and I am in my final year of studies towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering ,with a focus on Engineering Management, at Oregon State University. Along with my studies, I have previous work experience in the hospitality industry. I find my experiences with planning, customer service, and relationship management, and goal setting, complement my growing engineering skillset. Specifically, the mixture of management and social considerations with technical knowledge is one I hope to continue honing upon employment. After graduation in June 2015, I have plans to use what I have learned and apply them to a managerial position at an organization whose mission is community focused. Personality Type: The Performer (Source: http://www.personalitypage.com/high-level.html)
My name is Ashley Smith and I am a senior majoring in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Naval Science. During the past three summers I have been active duty Marine Corps training to become a Marine Corps officer. In June 2015 I will graduate Oregon State University and commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. My goal after graduation and commissioning is to be selected as a signals intelligence officer during The Basic School in Quantico Virginia.
My name is Molly Winterrowd and I am majoring in Industrial Engineering with a minor in business and entrepreneurship at Oregon State University. Before enrolling in this course, I spent 2 years as a seasonal worker at the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) as a general engineering specialist I/II. Through this experience and throughout this course I learned how to effectively and efficiently organize, plan and manage a project. After graduating in the spring of 2015, I will be seeking a position in which I am able to use my managerial skills and leadership abilities to optimize processes of a manufacturing organization.