Congratulations to Julie Matthew, LGO '09, winner of the 2009 Best Thesis Award (BTA). I'll get back to Julie in a moment, but first I'd like to provide some context on thesis projects at LGO.
The centerpiece of the LGO program is the six-month internship, which each student completes at one of our partner companies. This is an incredible opportunity for our students, who get to work with key company employees (including upper management) to identify and address critical challenges facing the company and industry.
The internship, in turn, provides the material for a joint engineering-MBA thesis project, which students must finalize before graduating. Two faculty advisors — one each from engineering and management — offer guidance throughout the internship and thesis-writing process.
Over the years, LGO theses have made major impacts economically and intellectually. To acknowledge their importance to the program, we introduced the BTA in 2006. We give out this award at our graduation party, and it has become one of the highlights of that celebration. The prize has been a laptop computer provided by Intel (and in one year by Dell).
2009 BTA Highlights
Julie Matthew did her internship at the biopharmaceutical company Amgen. In her winning thesis project, she developed a powerful business case for using Quality by Design in a large biopharmaceutical environment.
Julie Matthew, winner of 2009 LGO Best Thesis Award.
This year, we had a total of 11 nominees, all of which were outstanding. I'd like to mention two standouts that I'm familiar with:
- Rodolfo Carboni, LGO '09 (Zara): Developed a pricing-optimization model for retail merchandise over time; a pilot test showed the model would have generated $47M in additional profits in 2008.
- Nick Barker, LGO '09 (Amazon): Helped develop a system that will allow Amazon to introduce and optimize an online grocery-delivery service.
Nomination & Selection Process
Finally, a quick overview of how we choose the best thesis project:
- Each faculty advisor can nominate one of his or her students for the BTA (or can be the second advisor on another advisor's nominee). Both faculty advisors must agree the student's thesis is worthy of nomination.
- LGO alumni review the nominated theses. Each thesis is reviewed by a minimum of four alumni.
- A committee comprising of staff and one faculty member who did not advise on any of the competing theses decides who takes home the BTA.
Thanks to everyone who participated in this year's competition. I look forward to seeing the 2010 entries!