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Davidson Academy Alumnus Helps Contract Packaging Company, Earns First Place for Technical Paper

Davidson Academy alumnus on a screenshot

With the help of Harvey Mudd College engineering students, including 2019 Davidson Academy graduate Sidney Taylor, a Southern California contract packaging company is becoming more competitive, efficient and profitable.

A detailed, comprehensive work plan, developed by the students with guidance from their professor Kash Gokli, Oliver C. Field Professor of Manufacturing Practice and Engineering Economics, won first place ($300) in the technical paper competition at the recent West Coast Industrial and Systems Engineering Conference held through Zoom. As the first place winner, the Harvey Mudd team will represent the region in the Undergraduate Technical Paper Competition Global Finals at the IISE Annual Conference & Expo in Seattle, Washington.

Supported by the Department of Engineering’s Riggs Fellowship, Sidney and her teammates worked during summer 2021 for WePackItAll (WPIA), located in Duarte and Irwindale, California. The company performs primary and secondary packaging for a wide variety of customers and products. In their winning paper, the Harvey Mudd team described how they examined the company’s processes and employed lean manufacturing methodologies to increase the processes’ throughput and reduce the frequency and severity of quality defects. They designed and implemented a new packout line, developed new operating procedures and designated production roles using insight from a value stream map, takt time calculations and the concepts of single-piece flow.

The Harvey Mudd team saved an order of magnitude more money for WePackItAll than their closest competitor. Sidney says she believes their project also stood out because “instead of just talking about the process engineering techniques we used, we really emphasized how we transformed the culture. The project would not have been as successful as it was without the buy-in of the people at WePackItAll, an aspect of process engineering which can be overlooked.”

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