Seniors Present at Annual QUEST Senior Conference
Students in the University of Maryland’s Quality
Enhancement Systems and Teams (QUEST) honors program are used to making an
impact. As part of QUEST’s highly selective, reality-based learning program,
they participate in courses focused on cross-functional collaboration,
innovation, quality management, and teamwork.
Twelve consulting projects were featured at the 2012 QUEST Senior Conference,
held on Thursday, December 6, 2012. More than 300 people gathered at the
University of Maryland’s Riggs Alumni Center to view the storyboards and hear
student teams describe their consulting projects on a night that capped off
months of hard work and preparation.
These consulting projects form the senior practicum portion of the honors
program. QUEST is operated jointly by the Robert H. Smith School of Business,
the A. James Clark School of Engineering, and the College of Computer,
Mathematical, and Natural Sciences and admits students from these schools.
Seniors in the QUEST program spend the entirety of the fall semester working
with a faculty adviser on consulting projects for corporations, all of which
have real-life importance and implications. This year student teams worked on 12
consulting projects for nine companies in industries that ranged the gamut from
defense to food products.
Each of the consulting projects resulted in a dynamic learning experience for
the students as well as creative, real-life business solutions for the
sponsoring companies. Working side-by-side with clients gives students a chance
to put theory to practice in the messy, complicated, often-frustrating world of
a real business.
QUEST “Project of the Year”
Tulkoff Food Products Inc. has been a Baltimore business since the 1930s and
is known for its horseradish products – processing two million pounds of raw
horseradish each year. The QUEST “Project of the Year” team consulted with
Tullkoff on the need to increase output per unit time (efficiency) in their
The winning team consisted of UMD seniors Neal Yaffe (marketing, operations
management), Nick Yaraghi (chemical engineering), Shirley Qin (supply chain
management, information systems), David Rosen (mechanical engineering), and
Becca Brown (marketing, operations management). The team formulated a scheduling
algorithm for one of the four manufacturing lines at Tulkoff to decrease the
amount of overall changeovers, maximize run sizes and ultimately accomplish the
goal of increasing efficiency. Tullkoff was running at 47 percent efficiency and
thought 50 percent efficiency was the best they could achieve. Through
situational research, statistical analysis and trial runs, the students were
able to formulate an algorithm that increased efficiency by about 12 percent –
much more than Tulkoff expected thought possible.
After a very successful beta test that ran in early November, Tulkoff
continues to use the new algorithm.
“The Senior Conference is a fantastic event that brings together the broader
QUEST community – corporate partners, alumni, families – to celebrate a great
achievement,” said Joe Bailey, director of the QUEST Honors Program and research
professor at the Smith School. “This is a very difficult project – condensing a
semester’s worth of work into one 15-minute presentation – and they all do an
Giving students the opportunity to work with real-life clients on real-life
business problems is a win-win situation for both students and businesses. Many
of the companies keep coming back to QUEST with new projects every year.
2012 Consulting Project Clients:
QUEST would like to thank conference sponsors ATK, PwC and SAIC.
If your company is interested in working with QUEST, contact Kylie Goodell at
email@example.com or visit http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/quest/corporatepartners/.
About the Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader
in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the
University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate,
full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive
education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The
school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning
locations in North America and Asia.