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News | March 13, 2024

MSTP-Indiana University Student Partnership Earns Recognition for Innovation

By OSD ManTech

A team of graduate students mentored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Manufacturing Science and Technology Program (MSTP) has received first prize in the Indiana University Kelley School of Business’s Field Consulting Project course.

Indiana University created the field consulting project course in 2017 to provide graduate students real-world consulting experience using research-based strategies, which in turn benefit participating organizations and businesses by improving their business models. The course pairs four-person teams of second-year master’s degree students with local businesses, government agencies, and non-profits to solve business challenges. Throughout the semester, the teams spend many hours learning, researching, and collaborating with clients to address specific needs or challenges within their industries. This hands-on experience helps students take what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it in practical ways, developing their professional skills in the process. The challenge culminates at the end of the semester with an award dinner where members of one team are recognized as the Jim Grandorf Field Consulting Project Champions.

MSTP has participated in the challenge since its inception through an educational partnership agreement between the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane Division, and Indiana University. At the beginning of each academic year, MSTP leadership identifies areas of improvement within MSTP’s organizational structure, strategy, or operational flow. This year’s graduate team was tasked with improving the process flow and efficiencies for the MSTP annual proposal call. To aid in devising solutions, the students conducted interviews with the MSTP team to understand the current proposal process and evaluate where bottlenecks and challenges occur.

Expanding on the winning efforts to develop the initial process model by MSTP’s 2017 Indiana University student partners (NSWC Crane Employees Mentor First-Ever Champions of the 'Jim Grandorf Field Consulting Challenge) the 2023 team generated a flow chart of the MSTP proposal cycle and built a digital tracking tool that uses metrics to capture the movement of a proposal submission through every step of the process. These rapid insights delivered by the new capability enable MSTP to quickly track progress, coordinate more effectively, and make efficient decisions. The tool also provides peace of mind and transparency to submitters, who can now observe the progress of their proposal in real time. The visual representation allows MSTP and DoD ManTech stakeholders to easily comprehend the complex workflow and draw conclusions from the data, regardless of their familiarity with the program.

“The resourcefulness of the students to build upon the efforts of our previous team was rewarding to witness,” said Justin McRoberts, MSTP Program Manager. “Within government we are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel, but sometimes the answer is already in front of us, waiting to be taken to the next level. That’s exactly what these students did; they demonstrated their adaptability to overcome a challenge by elevating an existing solution in an intentional way. Their success in this project is a direct correlation to the outstanding effort they put into it. We are grateful for their contributions and look forward to utilizing this new resource in our upcoming proposal calls.”

The realized and potential benefits stemming from this innovative tool set the team apart from the 19 other competitors, leading to its win. “ManTech is thrilled to mentor these impressive students and honor their achievements – they are the second ManTech team within seven years to win first prize”, expressed McRoberts.
MSTP is a research and development investment portfolio focused on a set of identified joint, defense-critical, and sometimes high-risk manufacturing technology areas. The portfolio focuses on cross-cutting defense manufacturing needs and stimulates the early development of manufacturing processes concurrent with science and technology development to facilitate the delivery of enabling capabilities to our warfighters.

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with focus areas in expeditionary warfare, strategic missions, and electronic warfare. NSWC Crane is responsible for multi-domain, multi-spectral, full lifecycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability for today’s warfighter.