Out of the Box - Supply Chain Management Problem Solving Competition

high school students working as a team
Out of the Box Competition
Coming Fall 2019
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Ever been stuck in a long line at the airport waiting to board a plane? While you waited, did you think about how, if you ran the airlines, you could head ’em up — get everybody on board that bird a whole faster? Here is your chance to offer your solution. While you are at it, you can learn more about supply chain management, the field of business dealing with moving goods and services — and people — more effectively, and you can try for some prizes, too.

Here is what you need to know to get started:

Supply chain management (SCM) is concerned with managing a network that links suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and end users to provide goods and services of high quality at low prices. Today, SCM has become the choice of many college students across the country because of its wide-ranging applications in banking, food, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, telecommunication, transportation and many other industries — as well as its promising job prospects.

The new annual Out of the Box competition aims to promote a deeper understanding of SCM among high school students by inviting them to solve an interesting problem in the field, prepare a summary report and submit a recorded presentation of their findings. The last two items will be evaluated by a group of experts in the area, and cash prizes will be awarded to the top three winning teams.

supply chain globe and plane icon

Millions of people board airplanes at airports throughout the world on a daily basis. It takes more time to get everyone on the plane today than 20 years ago due to the growing number of passengers, the increasing amount of carry-on luggage and many other factors. Long boarding time leads to late departures, missed connecting flights and disgruntled passengers; so many airlines are using different schemes to speed up the boarding process. See, for example, the following article for a survey of them: Every Airline Has a Different Boarding Process — Here’s What You Need to Know.

The SCM problem for the 2019 competition centers on plane boarding in an airport. The competitors first need to gain a complete understanding of the existing boarding strategies adopted by major airlines in the world. Then they have to use a mathematical, statistical, simulation, or any other scientific method to analyze and compare the various strategies to determine which of them is the best overall with respect to boarding time and ease of use. Developing a new boarding procedure that is more efficient and easier to implement will be a big plus but is not required.

Detailed information about the plane boarding problem, the guidelines on preparing the summary report and the recorded presentation, as well as other relevant issues will be posted here on Feb. 18, 2019.

(All times CST in 2019)

Schedule of Competition Events and Deadlines
Time Event
TBA Start of online registration
TBA End of online registration
TBA Posting of competition problem
TBA First online Q&A session
TBA Second online Q&A session
TBA Summary report and recorded presentation due
TBA Announcement of winning teams

One to four students in the ninth to the 12th grade of a high school in the DFW region are encouraged to form a team and participate in the problem-solving competition. Multiple teams from the same school are welcome, but a student is allowed to join only one team. Information to be provided by each team includes:

  • Team name
  • Up to four team members
  • For each team member:
    • Name
    • Email address
    • Home address
    • School name
    • Grade level
    • Major

Registration begins August 2019

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In addition to the two online Q&A sessions, please also feel free to contact the undergraduate Supply Chain Management Program at UT Dallas at bsscm@utdallas.edu if you have any questions about any aspect of the problem-solving competition. We will get back to you within 24 hours.

Ching-Chung Kuo, PhD Director
BS in Supply Chain Management Program
Cynthia Hunt Academic Support Coordinator
BS in Supply Chain Management Program