Teams featuring seven engineering students from West Virginia University captured the top three places in the Third Annual Target Case Study Competition. Sponsored by the Target Corporation and hosted by WVU’s Career Services Center, the competition challenges teams of students in all majors to use their problem-solving skills to provide well-rounded solutions to a business problem.

WVU students Seth Porter, C. J. Hores, Dylan Hupp and Stephen Mareske took top honors at this year’s Target Case Study Competition.

This year’s challenge asked students to creatively think and design strategies that Target could potentially implement to remain competitive in today’s modern and rapidly changing retail landscape.

Top honors went to sophomore industrial engineering majors Seth Porter and C.J. Hores (Wheeling), Dylan Hupp (St. Mary’s) and Stephen Mareske (Charlotte, North Carolina). The four are also members of WVU’s Honors College.

“Our team recognized how creative we had to be to remain competitive in this case study,” said Porter. “We thought outside of the box and took ideas one step further than many would think. It wasn’t just designing how Target could keep up in today’s landscape, but how Target could accurately predict and determine market trends before the general populous knew what those trends would be.”

The team made a number of suggestions including better space utilization to make room for small scale distribution centers at each store, offering same day/next day delivery by Target-owned trucks and manipulation of current inventory in an attempt to make a trip to Target a “shopping experience” vs. a shopping trip.

“Our industrial engineering classes were imperative to our thinking process,” Porter continued. “Classes that applied real-world applications and process improvement were critical to start making us think creatively and unconventionally like industrial engineers are expected to.”

The team, which won $1,500, credited concepts taught by Jack Byrd, professor of industrial engineering, as being crucial to their success.

The second place team, winners of $1,000, featured Morgantown natives Sklyer Roth, a senior in the Honors College majoring in biomedical engineering, and Shannon Roth, a senior management information systems in the College of Business and Economics. Two more industrial engineers—seniors Clay Chipps (Honors College) and KayLee Pethtel—finished third, winning $500.

According to Sarah Glenn, associate director of employee relations, the teams from WVU achieved the highest return on investment of all Target competition schools in the region.