A senior design team from the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech has won first place in the systems engineering and design track of the Andrew P. Sage Senior Design Capstone Competition at George Mason University.

The annual capstone competition is a student-focused international forum for the design of complex systems. According to the agency's website, designs should demonstrate systems engineering skills and knowledge to perform all the activities associated with a systems development life cycle.

The best paper award for each track is awarded based on the quality of the written paper and the presentation. The panel of judges consisted of experienced system engineers and engineering managers from industry and government.

For the competition, team members, Tara Boyle, Jeff Hunt, Bryce Kupter, and Timothy Smith, presented their work with Cadence, a contract manufacturer of specialty blades, headquartered in Staunton, Virginia, to evaluate their facility layout and process flows.

The team project, titled, "Manufacturing Flow and Layout Improvement," worked with Cadence to analyze both the current state data and the predicted impact of new demand. To do this, they developed value stream maps, spaghetti diagrams, and a dependency diagram to determine a baseline for improvement.

After the team's initial analysis, along with cost and infrastructure requirements, they created three new layout alternatives, which provided a range of feasible opportunities for Cadence. The proposed layouts, each paired with a business case analysis, balanced the resource costs with reductions in lead time, inventory level, and material movements.

After reviewing the proposed layouts from the team, Cadence selected and implemented a new layout. From the proposal, they expect reduced direct labor hours, lower inventory days on hand, and less time from raw materials to finished goods, while meeting current demand. With the layout already in place, Cadence has already increased production capacity to enable future product growth.