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KNOXVILLE — A team of four University of Tennessee, Knoxville, undergraduate students recently won the Third Annual IANA Logistics & Supply Chain Management Case Competition at the University of North Florida. This was the second time UT Knoxville participated in the competition.

UT's 2011 IANA winners
UT's 2011 IANA winners, left to right: Diane Mollenkopf, Ben Hyman, Katherine (Katie) Nichols, Jillian Ollson, Samir (Sammy) Shah, and Terry Esper.

“The competition tested students’ ability to apply logistics knowledge and develop innovative and creative logistics solutions,” said Terry Esper, co-faculty adviser of the UT Knoxville team and associate professor of logistics.

The UT Knoxville team consisted of Ben Hyman, a senior from Knoxville, and Katherine (Katie) Nichols, Jillian Olsson, and Samir (Sammy) Shah, seniors from Nashville.

“The team was chosen from a pool of many applicants,” said Diane Mollenkopf, co-faculty adviser and McCormick Associate Professor of Logistics. “We looked for a diversity of internship experiences, study abroad experiences, and overall coursework background to create a team that was well-balanced and knowledgeable about business strategy, in general, and logistics, in particular.”

Each competing team was challenged to address issues regarding online distribution and customer service. Zappos was going through an identity crisis, and the team’s objective was to find its identity and chart a path forward for the firm to logistically support its “WOW” customer service mantra.

Each team had one day to prepare its case, which was presented to a panel of ten judges. The judges were senior-level logistics professionals from diverse industries across the U.S., including Johnson & Johnson, Vistikon, and McCormick.

“The panel of judges, including UT Knoxville alumnus Cody Chason, corporate transportation optimization analyst from Kimberly Clark, brought a wealth of knowledge to the experience,” said Esper. “Many of them told us afterwards that the UT team was clearly the best team, both in terms of the sophistication of the logistics solutions as well as the professional level of their presentation. We are extremely proud of their resourcefulness, professionalism, and logistics proficiency.”

Students from Auburn University, Georgia Southern University, Michigan State University, University of Arkansas, University of Maryland, University of North Florida, and University of North Texas also competed.

“I’ve gotten so much out of my UT education because of the incredible faculty support and the ability to compete in professional development opportunities such as this,” said Hyman. “Being a member of the team helped build my confidence and presentation skills and gave me a chance to apply my logistics knowledge in a real-world setting.”

Hyman is starting his career in June as a procurement associate with Exxon. Nichols is joining International Paper, Olsson is joining Radio Systems Corporation, and Shah will be working for Unilever.


Cindy Raines (865-974-4359,