UNT students take top prize at national logistics competition for first time

2015 Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) winners
UNT students in the logistics program place first in the Intermodal Association of North America – University of North Florida case competition for the first time. (2015.) Pictured from left to right: Junior Adam Sharpe, Junior Laura Catalina Quinones Rios, UNT Associate Professor Terrance Pohlen, Junior Mary Catherine Schoals and Junior Ripley Wren
Thursday, May 7, 2015 - 13:17

DENTON (UNT), Texas — For the first time, a group of logistics students at the University of North Texas have won first place in the Intermodal Association of North America – University of North Florida case competition. Besting competition from six top logistics programs, the UNT team pitted classroom learning against a classic, real-world problem all businesses face: how to expand in the midst of fierce competition.

UNT juniors Mary Catherine Schoals of Flower Mound, Texas; Laura Catalina Quinones Rios of Medellin, Colombia; Adam Sharpe of Allen, Texas; and Ripley Wren of Saginaw, Texas, worked together to find a creative solution for Florida East Coast Railway's plan to integrate intermodal transportation service into the Central Florida region.

"The strength of the UNT logistics program was reflected in the team's deep understanding of transportation issues, and it was highlighted in the students' ability to think beyond the ordinary to create unique solutions to scenarios that logistics companies face regularly," says competition judge Phil Shook, who also serves on the intermodal association's board of directors and is a director of intermodal at C.H. Robinson, a leading third-party logistics provider. "As a judge, I was immensely impressed by the thought and comprehensive analysis these students put into both their presentation and paper."

With a week to prepare, teams were given two expansion options. The UNT students recommended the company move the shipping containers through Central Florida from rail to trucks at a midway point. They also suggested the railway company invest in upgrades at the midpoint terminal to increase load capacity, use load-to-load economies to maximize profits and use a contract trucking service to save money.

The students say it was their experience in the UNT College of Business logistics program that gave them the edge.

"We get a pracademic view of the logistics industry," says Schoals, referring to a term used to describe a combination of academic learning and practical experience. "Most of our professors have extensive industry experience. We wouldn't have recommended a contract drayage service to the railway if we hadn't been taught about the advantages to that transportation service in class. We were able to show our excellence on a national scale."

The UNT team competed against students from the University of Tennessee, University of North Florida, University of Maryland, University of Arkansas, Auburn University and Michigan State University during the April competition. While this win was a first for a UNT group, teams from the university have twice won the Intermodal Association's annual EXPO challenge competition in September.

About UNT's College of Business

With more than 5,500 students, UNT's College of Business is one of the largest business schools in the nation and has been continuously accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International since 1961. With 103 full-time faculty members, the college offers 16 undergraduate degrees, 22 master's degrees, seven doctoral programs and 17 certificate programs. Three centers and institutes in the College of Business create synergy among scholarship, research and teaching. Classes take place in the 180,000-square-foot Business Leadership Building, which opened in 2011. Students enhance their learning experience through student organizations, study abroad programs, internships and the Professional Leadership Program to develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today's technological and global business environment.

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