Spring 2011: Comcast Senior Design Team Takes First Place
Out of the 24 Senior Design teams who tackled solving real-world problems for a variety of companies this semester, three teams rose to the top to find themselves in the much sought after and hard won position of being finalist in the end-of- semester Senior Design Competition.
The three finalist teams, listed in alphabetical order by organization, include:
- Gwinnett County Public Schools
- United Parcel Service
The team who worked on a project sponsored by Comcast garnered first place in the competition. Guided by faculty advisor, Dr. Alexander Shaprio, seven students Ian Balmaseda, Thien Huynh, Daniel Kohlsdorf, Sagar Patel, Alejandro Santelises, Holly Thomasson, and Michelle Wang made up the Comcast team. Their project, entitled Improving Comcast’s Outage Detection System, focused on reducing the number of unnecessary trucks and service calls that Comcast incurs because of inaccurate outage detection. A cost model was developed and consequently various algorithms were created aimed at increasing the probability of detecting a genuine outage, thus lowering the unnecessary costs associated with each outage. Additionally, incoming call frequency was analyzed to detect unusual spikes in customer call patterns. A conservative estimated value added based on part of the deliverables will save Comcast approximately $1.4 million annually.
The two other teams (Gwinnett County Public Schools and United Parcel Service) were honored as runners-up in the competition.
Gwinnett County Public Schools is the second largest transporter of students in the nation and is facing considerable budget cuts. Working on a project titled, Gwinnett County Public Schools Bus Logistics, the team members included Morgan Doty, Bryce Dykes, Kathleen Hendrix, Ralph Long, Dana Lupuloff, Douglas Meagh, Jeffrey Phillips, Michael Vallecoccia, along with advisor Dr. Julie Swann. By developing assignment and scheduling heuristics implemented by a user friendly application and informed by a regression and forecast, the team was able to significantly reduce the total number of buses needed for daily transportation. The overall reduction of over 100 buses resulted in an initial savings of $2.9 million and recurring savings of $2.6 million each year.
The team who worked with United Parcel Service (UPS) to Optimize the Smalls Cut-off included Stephen Cai, Allison Chan, Amy Chan, Se W. Chang, Christine Chuang, David Dongkuen Kim, and Derek von Zweck along with advisor Dr. Anton Kleywegt. The objective of the project was to analyze the effects of separating packages into small and large packages, and to recommend cut-off dimensions that minimize total cost. A 3D bin packing algorithm was developed to simulate the loading of packages into trailers. A mixed integer program was used to calculate the optimum number of trailers needed on each route, on each day. By selecting the smalls cut-off that optimizes the trade-off between handling costs and transportation costs, UPS would realize cost savings of $17,000 daily at a terminal
“I am impressed by the amount of high-quality work our students did to create real, significant value for such a wide range of companies and organizations this semester," said Dr. Joel Sokol, Senior Design Coordinator.
All senior students in ISyE culminate their undergraduate educational experience with the Senior Design course in order to provide firsthand experience at solving real world problems in a team environment. Students typically work in teams of five to seven individuals with 15-25 Senior Design groups running each semester. Each group is advised by an ISyE faculty member, and the faculty coordinator manages the overall course. Companies interested in submitting a project for consideration can either contact Dr. Sokol, at 404 894-6484 or can post a project through the ISyE webpage at http://www.isye.gatech.edu/seniordesign/. Senior design teams look for projects before the start of the fall and spring semesters.