Supply Chain Sustainability Hackathon participants

For 34 Ohio State students, the second annual Supply Chain Sustainability Hackathon put them front and center of a challenge facing nearly every company and impacting every person on the planet: how to balance profitability, sustainability and carbon emissions in the face of climate change.

Hosted by Fisher’s Department of Marketing and Logistics and simulation consulting company Simwell, the Hackathon challenged 12 teams to explore whether — and how — to prioritize minimizing carbon emissions, minimizing distribution costs, or both, for honey processing and distribution networks.

“In this day and age, companies must view CO2 emissions as a dollar value cost or the social cost of carbon,” said Illya Yefymenko, a third-year logistics management and finance student. “Working with this in in mind during the competition helped me understand how businesses must balance their carbon costs and efficiency efforts to meet their triple bottom line. There are lots of intricate components to supply chain management, and those professionals who are able to develop creative solutions that challenge the status quo will find the most success.”

The three-day event highlights the intersection of logistics, sustainability and analytics and provides students with a unique opportunity to develop new analytics skills and sustainability knowledge, said Vince Castillo, assistant professor of logistics and the event’s organizer.

“Companies are often concerned about the cost of investments in environmental sustainability and whether such investments enhance economic performance,” Castillo said. “Given the risks to supply chains from climate change, the increasing consumer preference for sustainably produced goods, and upcoming emissions disclosure rulings from the SEC, preparing our students for this vital topic is essential.”

anyLogistixs software class
Students learn anyLogistix software for the competition.

After learning how to utilize a supply chain software on day two of the competition, students were given less than 24 hours to consult with faculty and industry mentors, analyze the data and come up with solutions.

“With only about 18 hours to create and submit our presentation, I gained the ability to make quick decisions while under pressure,” Yefymenko said.

On day three, each team gave a 10-minute presentation of their ideas to a panel of judges and fielded five minutes of questions. The judges — Andy Keller, principal of AR Keller Enterprise, Karen McVey, co-owner of Clearview Management Resources, and Debbie Ryan, director of procurement – distribution and logistics at LogicSource, Inc. — evaluated each team’s solution on technical merit and professionalism.

Top teams split a share of $10,000 in scholarships provided by the Kroger Co. Foundation. The winners included:

Illya Yefymenko and Danny Thorson
Upperclassmen Grand Champion team: Illya Yefymenko and Danny Thorson
  • Upperclassmen Grand Champion team ($3,500): Danny Thorson, operations management; Illya Yefymenko, logistics management and finance
  • Upperclassmen Runner-up team ($2,000): Grace Gao, operations management and logistics management; Chloe Keim, finance and logistics; Sebastian Market, industrial and systems engineering
  • Underclassmen Grand Champion team ($3,000): Hanna Faulkner, international business; Maggie Slack, logistics management; Lily Smiley, marketing; Sarah Zouaoui, undecided
  • Underclassmen Runner-up team ($1,500): Kunsh Vivekanand, logistics management and international business; Rhea Reddy, finance

“The competition and presentation opened my eyes to the significant role supply chain plays in a company,” first-year student Sarah Zouaoui said. “It runs every small detail of a corporation and not only affects the business but also the community.”

Both first-place teams pitched ideas that called for replacing the company’s main distribution center with two new ones in more centrally located areas.

Opening a distribution center provides new jobs, helps contribute to taxes and affects the environment with how much CO2 is emitted. A lot goes into a supply chain than just simply making more money for an industry,” Zouaoui said.

The Upperclassmen Grand Champion team found the solution as a promising way to keep carbon emissions low while still achieving high profitability.

“Our solution yielded the highest profit of all the models we tested. We decided realizing more profits upfront would allow us to invest in sustainability initiatives early and allow for reduced emissions in the long run,” Yefymenko said.

The Hackathon’s inaugural competition in 2022 proved timely in response to companies reimagining supply chain logistics to become more sustainable, resilient and transparent. The case competition’s aim is to have students find solutions to supply chains’ carbon emissions which, according to Accenture, generate around 60% of all carbon emissions globally.

Maggie and gang
Underclassmen Grand Champion team: Maggie Slack, Lily Smiley, Sarah Zouaoui and Hanna Faulkner

“Knowing what to present and how to present it by making the data and our motive understandable and convincing was developed through creativity and many trials and errors,” Zouaoui said. “I learned when working with others that communication and thinking outside the box can help lead to better solutions. As an all-female team, we incorporated aspects of women in business and how it’s important to encourage young girls to strive for fields dominated by men. We also showed how using glass products would reduce the CO2 level further and not contribute to plastic waste.”

Said Yefymenko: “The Hackathon has helped me become more comfortable with asking questions. I’ve realized it is impossible to excel in something new unless you're willing to ask questions and work with others.”

"There are lots of intricate components to supply chain management, and those professionals who are able to develop creative solutions that challenge the status quo will find the most success."

Illya YefymenkoThird-year logistics management and finance major


Vince Castillo Assistant Professor
Faculty Profile