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Trio of IMSE students shine at CELDi symposium

The University of Missouri’s status as a member of the Center for Excellence in Logistics and Distribution [CELDi] has been a feather in the cap of the Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering Department since MU began its affiliation with the group in 2006. And the performances of three student researchers at a recent CELDi event caused MU’s site to shine even brighter.

Kyle Dorge and Lauren Himmelberg pose with a CELDi IAB member and Jim Noble.

Kyle Dorge and Lauren Himmelberg, center, took home the Student Poster Award at the CELDi Fall 2015 Industrial Advisory Board Meeting and Research Symposium, held Oct. 28 and 29 in Chicago. Photos courtesy of Jim Noble.

IMSE graduate student Lauren Himmelberg and undergraduate Kyle Dorge took home the Student Poster Award, and Steve Piedimonte earned the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Achievement Award at the CELDi Fall 2015 Industrial Advisory Board Meeting and Research Symposium, held Oct. 28 and 29 in Chicago.

CELDi, founded in 2002 with the goal of helping “member organizations to achieve logistics and distribution excellence by delivering meaningful, innovative and implementable solutions that provide a return on investment,” holds symposia twice annually, handing out poster awards at each while recognizing top graduate and undergraduate achievement each fall.

Himmelberg and Dorge’s project was titled “Repair prioritization with respect to inventory requirements.” The duo’s work laid out guidelines on how to optimize the replacement of airplane parts for CELDi partner The Boeing Company, factoring in typical wear and tear, the parts’ relationships to asset reliability and cost effectiveness.

Stephen Piedmonte poses with his award.

Stephen Piedimonte, center, earned the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Achievement honor for his project with UMB Financial Corporation, which dealt with process improvements within the data entry, debit, online banking and clerical departments to improve individual employee and overall department efficiency.

“We developed a computer algorithm to try and figure out and give recommendations on how many parts we should repair [now],” Himmelberg said. “So how many of each type of part to repair — how to best use your money.”

The poster awards were based on presentations at the conference, with different groups of industry judges scoring each team after asking several questions about the project. Himmelberg said her project will serve as the basis of her graduate thesis, and after the scrutiny it’s received at several CELDi events, she’s confident in her eventual defense. Dorge was quick to second her sentiment.

“[The questions are] mostly on the research and development side. They usually have some pretty good questions. Sometimes it seems they know the material better than you do,” Dorge said.

Both Himmelberg and Dorge interned with Boeing, and MU CELDi site director and IMSE Professor Jim Noble said the extended internship experience allowed them to become more invested in the project. He added thatit was MU’s first win in the category since 2009.

“I think the internship experience gives them an even deeper ability to talk about the problem than students from other universities,” Noble said. “They not only have worked on it as students during the academic year, but it was also a major thread of their summer.

“When they say Boeing, it’s ‘we’ and not ‘them.’”

The student awards are given each year “for outstanding student achievement during the performance of CELDi sponsored research projects.” Piedimonte’s work with UMB Financial Corporation dealt with process improvements within the data entry, debit, online banking and clerical departments to improve individual employee and overall department efficiency. He said what struck him most at the conference was how interested other companies were in the universality of his research.

“One of those questions I remember that I got that was tough for me was ‘How does this apply to my company, or how is this going to help me?’” Piedimonte recalled. “I was explaining my research to someone, and that was just a question that caught me off guard that I’d never really thought about, and I realized that was the point of the entire conference.”

Involving undergraduates early has been a staple of the MU CELDi site since its infancy, Noble said, which in turn has allowed the site to produce frequent quality work with the help of its younger members. MU also claimed the top undergraduate honor last year.

“We get more of our undergraduates involved than everybody else does, so we seed the pool a little bit bigger,” Noble joked. “That’s one thing MU does a great job of. Our engineering college does a great job supporting undergraduate research.”