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Michigan Ross MBAs Earn Awards and Scholarships for Challenging, Real-World Tauber Institute Projects


Full-Time MBA students from the Ross School of Business were among the award and scholarship recipients named at the Tauber Institute for Global Operations' 2021 Spotlight! Team Project Showcase and Scholarship Competition in November.

The Tauber Institute’s Spotlight! event is an annual competitive presentation of operations solutions developed by business and engineering student teams at the University of Michigan during their team projects at top global companies. The 14-week operations-based projects are centered on creating innovative solutions that provide significant financial savings, as well as improvements in areas such as CO2 emissions, energy consumption, throughput time, and supply chain risk. 

The Tauber team projects course is also one of the distinctive action-based learning experiences available to students in the Michigan Ross MBA Program. Through the projects, which are paid and take place over the summer, students are able to get hands-on experience working directly with sponsoring companies. The competition also provides an opportunity for participants to establish lasting relationships with their peers and corporate partners, as well as expand their university presence to gain exposure to new ideas in operations. 

Projects generate a record-setting nearly $1 billion value

This year, the 2021 Tauber team projects returned a record-setting savings of over $989 million, an average of $43 million in savings per project over three years, in addition to valuable workflow and sustainability improvements. The 2021 project sponsors were AIP, Amazon, Beyond Meat, Boeing, Brunswick, Curation Foods Inc., Estée Lauder Companies Inc., Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Herman Miller, Howmet Aerospace, Mayo Clinic, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, NCMS, PepsiCo, Pfizer Inc., Stanley Black & Decker, Stoneridge, Target Corp., and Whirlpool Corp.

A panel of distinguished judges from diverse industries selected first place, second place, and two teams that tied for third place. Students on winning teams each received $5,000 scholarships for first place, $4,000 for second, and $3,000 for third.

Michigan Ross award winners recognized at the 2021 Spotlight! event

Michigan Ross Tauber team project winners were: 

  • Lyndy Burnett, MBA ’22, who took second place for her team’s project with Pfizer, which focused on accelerating the pharmaceutical batch process velocity of clinical manufacturing in a United Kingdom-based facility.
  • Gilbert Pasquale, MBA ’22, who took third place for his team’s project with Beyond Meat, which involved measuring the operational equipment effectiveness of the equipment on a few manufacturing lines in a new Pennsylvania-based facility.
  • Matthew Rosales, MBA ’22, who took third place for his team’s project with Ford, which involved developing an artificial intelligence algorithm to automate asset identification and classification process as well as provide a blueprint for future additional implementations for Ford’s Factory Digital Twin team.
Gilbert Pasquale, MBA ’22

“We had great faculty advisors as well as plant management and executive leadership at Beyond Meat,” said Pasquale about why he believes his team was chosen among the top award winners. 

At the awards ceremony, the Tauber Institute presented the Tauber Trailblazer faculty award to Michigan Ross Lecturer Eric Svaan, who has served as business faculty advisor for 45 team projects over 24 years. The Tauber Alumni Board also presented three Tauber Alumni Scholarships to students selected for their outstanding contributions to the Tauber community over the past year. 

Full-Time MBA scholarship recipients recognize impact of Tauber’s program and their award

The Michigan Ross alumni scholarship recipients were: 

  • Bryce Garver, MBA ’22, who worked on a project with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences to illuminate key differences in the full life cycle of a newly developed product between new digital methods and traditional methods of manufacturing.
  • ​​Margaret Kirk, MBA ’22, who worked on a project with Whirlpool Corp. to develop a training framework for industrial digital transformation initiatives and provide a robust business case to support the framework implementation.
Bryce Garver, MBA ’22

Garver and Kirk believe they were chosen as scholarship winners for their leadership, new ideas, and commitment to enacting positive change within professional organizations and the Tauber Institute.

 “I am constantly striving to make the Tauber Institute a more welcoming and inclusive place for all operations-interested students, regardless of their backgrounds,” said Garver. 

When asked what winning the scholarship meant to them, both Michigan Ross winners said it was an honor to be recognized as leaders and supportive members of the Tauber community. 

“In an organization that has given so much to me over my time here at Ross, it is good to see that I am making a positive impact on those around me, and that impact is recognized by the community at large,” said Garver. 

Winning this scholarship is extra special to me because Tauber is definitely my closest community at Ross. When prospective students ask me what my favorite part of my experience as an MBA student is, I always mention the Tauber community. I am so glad I have been able to collaborate with students who have diverse backgrounds and across schools here at U-M.

Margaret Kirk, MBA ‘22 

Tauber team projects give MBA students career-relevant, hands-on experience

The Michigan Ross MBA student awards and scholarship winners all expressed that their involvement with the Tauber Institute has been a highlight of their experience in business school. 

Pasquale said the experience has allowed him to gain valuable skills necessary for continuing a successful career in strategy and growth operations. 

“A great operations leader needs field experience on the manufacturing or plant floor,” he said. “My Tauber project required me to spend time on the floor every single day working with operators and plant leadership, problem solving in real time. That experience is invaluable.

“I was able to apply many Michigan Ross core skills in a fast paced, chaotic, and pressure filled environment. Change management, supply chain modelling, and continuous operational improvement are incredibly complicated in the plant and cannot be translated in the same way in the classroom.” 

The supportive and ‘incredible’ Tauber community

Many of the award winners said they appreciated the support and dedication of the Michigan Ross community and the corporate sponsors. 

“Being a part of the Tauber Institute during my time at Ross has opened doors to a cohort of people that have similar passions to mine, and have also become some of my closest friends,” said Garver.  “The Tauber community is very supportive and works together so that we all get out of it what we are looking for.” 

Margaret Kirk, MBA ‘22 

Similarly, Kirk described the Tauber community as “incredible,” and credits it for allowing her to connect to parts of U-M that she would have never experienced without Tauber. “I also have learned so much from my MBA peers in Tauber, and we have supported each other through shared experiences, however challenging they may be,” she said. 

Additionally, Pasquale shared how working with the sponsor’s plant team members and the Tauber Institute was an incredibly exciting experience. “Their community is passionate, innovative, and moving very quickly. It was inspiring to get to learn from that community every day,” he said. “I felt very lucky to meet weekly with incredible faculty and staff sponsors from the College of Engineering and Michigan Ross.” 

For prospective students considering Michigan Ross and the Tauber Institute, both scholarship winners emphasized that what one puts into a community or organization is correlated to what they get out of it. 

For Kirk, leaning into her Tauber experience has been immensely beneficial, and she recommended future students to lean into their interests while pursuing their MBA. 

“This can relate to anything you are passionate about,” she said. “School is a great time to explore things you may not be able to when you are working full-time, so take advantage of the opportunities while you are here.”