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Non-profit project benefits students, community

Brenda Knebel, Krannert’s Director of Master’s and Executive Programs, was at a fundraiser last year when she met some executives involved with the Wabash Center. The Lafayette, Indiana-based center provides services to children and adults with disabilities.

The conversation turned to some operations and supply chain issues the Wabash Center was facing. Knebel informed the execs of the Dauch Center for the Management of Manufacturing Enterprises and Global Supply Chain Management Initiative (DCMME/GSCMI), both located at the Krannert School.

“From there, I got involved,” says Mary Pilotte, Managing Director of DCMME and GSCMI, and now a member of the Wabash Center board of directors. “When I heard of some of the issues they were facing, I saw an opportunity for our centers to serve the community while helping to develop our students’ skills.”

One of the issues the Wabash Center was considering was the feasibility of getting involved in community “e-cycling” issues; that is, how to recycle electronics (mainly computers). Three DCMME/GSCMI graduate assistants, Mark Wolfred (MBA ’10), Manminder Singh (MBA ’11), and Jenny Tvedt (MBA ’11) took on the task of investigating where the Wabash Center might fit in the e-cycling chain and whether it was a sound business decision.

After two months of research, the trio presented its findings to the non-profit organization’s leadership team. Their efforts were appreciated—in September the students were presented with the Wabash Center 2010 Innovation Award. Wabash Center President Jeff Darling praised the trio for its work, saying “they gave us insightful information that proved key to our decision-making and planning for a new business venture.”

For the students, the project was a win on two fronts. “It was a chance for us to put our knowledge to the test to see if it holds up in a real-world setting,” says Tvedt, a Seattle native who earned an undergraduate degree in biochemistry at the University of Washington.

For Singh, a native of New Delhi, India, who came to Purdue with experience in operations and consulting, the chance to work with a local non-profit agency was a plus. “It is great to be able to use your knowledge to be able to give back to the community,” he says.

For more about DCMME and GSCMI, click here.