Engineering student places first in 3M international innovation competition

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Vamshi Voruganti, a senior industrial engineering student, was a member of the first place team that won the 3M "Invent a New Future Challenge."

The global round of the competition, held in July at the 3M global headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota, brought the national finalists from the 12 participating countries together for a final championship round.

The 3M event is a case competition for students in the last year of their undergraduate degree or those pursuing a graduate degree. Teams were tasked with assessing a unique 3M situation, analyzing available information, crafting a solution and defending its recommendations.

The focus of this final international round of the competition was on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Teams were asked to present a business case for diversity and inclusion, and to make recommendations for ways that 3M could improve on their efforts in the area.  

Voruganti served as the U.S. representative for his team, working alongside Eunseo Jean Kim from Hangyang University in South Korea; Bruno Ferreira de Oliveira from Universidade Federal da Bahia in Brazil; Annu Mann from Xavier School of Management in India; and Abdulkhaleq Ahmed Al-Mansaf from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.

The team presented their recommendations to a judging panel made up of senior leaders of 3M. Since being awarded first place in the competition, Voruganti and his team have already seen some of their own recommendations implemented within 3M as a company.

“This experience deeply affected me. I've always known that diversity and inclusion were ‘important,’ but this was the fist time I directly thought about it,” Voruganti said. “I made a resolution to myself after this competition to do more work in the fields of diversity and inclusion rather than let my interest end simply because the competition is over.”

As overall winners of the competition, Voruganti and his teammates earned a trip to the 3M Innovation Center and a six-month mentorship with a 3M senior leader.

A native of Exton, Pennsylvania, Voruganti is involved with the Penn State chapter of the National Organization of Business and Engineering. He was also on the team that placed first at the Inaugural Smeal Supply Chain Entrepreneurship Pitch Contest in Spring 2016.

Now that the competition has ended, Voruganti says he has begun networking and speaking to company executives about the ways in which analytics can be used to promote diversity and inclusion.

For more information on the 3M Invent a New Future Challenge and for a list of previous winners, visit the Invent a New Future Challenge website. 

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Last Updated November 30, 2017