What’s Happening in 490H this Semester?

One of the key pillars of QUEST is the 490H course, which all students are required to take. The QUEST Capstone Professional Practicum (BMGT/ENES 490H) is the culmination of the effort students have put into QUEST and is designed for them to use the skills they’ve learned. It’s a chance for students to get experience working with real-world companies and solving actual problems in the industry. Students work in teams to provide corporate clients with recommendations for organizational challenges that they recognize.

This semester, students taking 490H are working for a variety of corporate partners. Leidos, Northrop Grumman, Miltec UV, OTech, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, GE, and BD are some of the organizations that will be benefiting from the insight that the QUEST teams assigned to them will be providing.

An in-depth analysis of one of the teams’ mindset is very intriguing. The team at Northrop Grumman, consisting of Q28 students Eric Ding, Brandon Lucas, Elizabeth Gillum, and Jordan King, named Brady Bunch Consulting, is working with the company to improve their inventory management system. They (Northrop Grumman) have on hand and cycle through some 240,000 parts and believe there is an opportunity to improve the process from when the part arrives from the supplier to when it’s assembled into its final product. This requires both a technical analysis and a holistic review of the process to determine where those opportunities may lie in between the moving parts and the teams working to move them.

The skills they’ve gained in QUEST have served them well so far. Eric Ding says, “Generally, we’ve been able to gather deeper insights by asking better questions and implementing healthy communication skills that we garnered from our experiences working on teams in QUEST.”

Teamwork is an important component to accomplishing this goal and Eric mentions that working with his team has been a real pleasure. He points out that “the different backgrounds, skill sets, and personalities on the team invigorate team meetings to always be productive, efficient, and fun.”  

Challenges while carrying out a project like this are to be expected and for this project, the main one so far is making sure that the team scopes out the right problems in the existing system at Northrop Grumman and making sure they focus on the right areas. Eric’s thoughts on the subject are, “The challenge in improving a quantifiable system is being certain at the end of the journey that you were able to scope the right problem, validate your key assumptions from the beginning, and provide the correct recommendations to enable those improvements.” When asked about whether the team has a good chance of earning the distinction of having the most outstanding capstone project, Eric insists that it’s “not about the destination but the friends and experiences you make along the way.” Wise words indeed, and this project should prove to be a boom to Northrop Grumman.

It should be a blast to see all of these projects blossom through the semester and to see which one achieves the distinction of being the most outstanding capstone project. Be sure to save the date for the QUEST conference when all of the teams will present the results of their projects: Thursday, December 6, 2018 6-8:30 PM at the Riggs Alumni Center.

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