PAC logistics team carries weight nationally

February 27, 2018

Public Relations

A team of Palo Alto College logistics students won fourth place at the 37th Annual Operation Stimulus (OpStim) competition—a prestigious and highly competitive supply chain and logistics student case study competition held annually in Denver. 

Of 19 teams—competing against the likes of Texas Tech University, Penn State, and Syracuse University—Palo Alto College was the sole community college. It was the College’s sixth time competing at OpStim, and it was the first time they have advanced to the final round.

“They were just phenomenal—all six of them,” said Ronnie Brannon, logistics program lead at Palo Alto College, of this year’s team. Members included four returning teammates—Emmanuel “Manny” Valdez, Larry Trejo, Mario Diaz, and Ronald “Ronnie” Johnson—and two first-timers—Jake Reed and Alexa Martinez.

OpStim invites students in logistics from the nation's leading colleges and universities to learn, innovate, and solve real-world problems, while also bringing in industry leaders and companies championing the future of the industry. 

“It prepares them for operating at the highest level of logistics,” said Brannon. “Logistics is all about understanding how to apply the knowledge that you have to make systems work better. It’s much like a puzzle.”

The OpStim competition consists of a two-day intensive supply chain and logistics case study—a real-world problem that encourages critical thinking. During this case study challenge, students take on the role of consultants hired to assist a fictional retailer in growing its business by leveraging its supply chain. Teams must review the facts, determine the root problem, develop possible solutions, and establish a recommended solution and implementation plan. If a team advances to the finals, they are given a last-minute problem to solve a few hours before their final presentation.

“They are immersed in these case studies. It trains them for when they get to their real-world situation—their first job,” said Brannon. “This [OpStim] case study amplifies what we’ve been doing in class, and takes it to another level of attention to detail.”

Students competing at OpStim advance their skills through rigorous practice, but they are also provided the opportunity to learn from other students and industry leaders. As a faculty member, Brannon said he also learns about the latest industry technology and trends, which he uses to help refine what is taught in the classroom. This, in turn, benefits the students back at home as they prepare for the workforce.

“There’s a notion that at community college, you’re getting a little less than you’re getting at a four-year institution. We’re hanging in there with the best of the best [at OpStim],” said Brannon. “From the standpoint of logistics, you’re going to learn what you need to learn here. Companies are going to want to hire you.”