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NMSU engineering students win national prizes

New Mexico State University engineering students were awarded a national first place prize of $7,500 and a national third place prize of $1,000 at the Annual Productivity Improvement Competition Feb. 24-27 in Lincoln, Neb.


Students Deb Chowning and Kelli Haye, both seniors in NMSU's industrial engineering department, took first place for their project entitled "Productivity Improvement in the Boeing Hydraulics Assembly Shop." Graduate students Margarita Fragoso in the industrial engineering department and Adrian Moreno-Manzo in the mechanical engineering department took third place for their project entitled "Optimizing Lot Sizes for Productivity Improvement in the ANTEC Manufacturing Facility."

"The competition was very productive, educational and fun. It will help me a lot in future professional presentations," Manzo said.

The competition involved four stages. First a written report of each project was evaluated by a panel of industry experts. The national finalists were then invited to the remaining three stages of competition at the University of Nebraska. During the second stage, students presented poster illustrations, model demonstrations and answered questions about their projects. The third and fourth stages involved multi-media presentations and rigorous question and answer sessions with a panel of five industry judges.

"It is very satisfactory when you take one semester's classroom project into the outside world and have it recognized as something good," Fragoso said.

All four students developed their projects during the Fall 1999 semester in a simulation modeling class taught by Linda Ann Riley, an assistant professor in NMSU's industrial engineering department.

The projects are based on actual problems that companies have experienced. Either companies have approached the department with the difficulties, or the students have gone to the companies to determine the problems, Riley said. She served as the students' coach, helping them to refine their projects in preparation for the competition.

"The competition was highly competitive and included several top-notch schools," Riley said. "The fact that NMSU took first and third is very significant." Some of the schools in attendance were the University of Arizona, the University of Texas, San Diego State University, Colorado State University, the University of Michigan and Loyola Marymount University.

The national competition was sponsored by PROMODEL Corp., Pella Corp., InaCom and infoUSA.

Sarah Lautman
May 4, 2000