During the 2014 fall term, six MS in Professional Studies students from the United States, India, and the Dominican Republic completed capstone projects and graduated from RIT. The range of project topics was far-reaching and addressed subjects that cut across the public, private and non-profit sectors. The quality of all six projects was exceptionally high; however, the project submitted by Ms. Rohita Kotagiri stood out as an example of what a multidisciplinary educated person can accomplish.
Rohita, who is currently employed by Apple Inc. and working on projects related to the digital supply chain aspects of the Apple iTunes online store, entered the Professional Studies program in spring 2014. What attracted Rohita to the program was the flexibility it offered to combine her studies in Industrial Engineering, focusing on logistics and supply chain management, with her research into inefficiencies in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccines for Children program.
Rohita’s capstone project, Vendor Managed Inventory for Pediatric Vaccines, was a comparative study of the current CDC vaccine distribution model, one that determines demand through a periodic review of inventory levels process, and an alternative model. Her goal was to offer a model that could reduce costs and waste by lowering vaccine inventory levels across the program. In her project, Rohita used discrete event-based simulation models to evaluate the impact of an alternative centralized “pull” vaccine distribution model, one that triggers orders from healthcare providers in the program, by taking into account US birth rates and related demographic information.
In her conclusion Rohita was able to show that the CDC’s distribution model for the program could be dramatically improved by implementing a vendor managed pull-distribution system and that using early vaccine demand data to replenish vaccines increases reaction time for distributors and manufacturers, thus adding flexibility to the system.