Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, ninety-nine bottles of beer. Take one down, pass it around, and develop an improved inventory management system? That’s right. At Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling, Trinity University business analytics and technology (BAT) students are gaining real-world experience at one of San Antonio’s growing craft breweries. For the second year, students enrolled in business professor Jorge Colazo’s lean operations course have turned their classroom studies into experiential consulting experience. Each fall semester, Colazo has sent two teams of four students to assist Ranger Creek with inventory management and to generate a production dashboard.
After grounding themselves in the principal philosophies of lean operations, students met with the Ranger Creek team to discuss expectations, how the company operates, and deliverables due at the semester’s end.
“When we designed the new business analytics and technology major, the idea was that every class should have some experiential component,” Colazo says. “Ranger Creek is not only a good learning environment, but a fun place for students to work.”
Over the course of the semester, students visited Ranger Creek five separate times during normal class hours. Charles Wagner ’16, a double major in BAT and communication from Chicago, was a member of the team that built the physical production dashboard for the operations manager. It was created so that there would be one central location where the manager could monitor every important production change.
Wagner and his classmates built the dashboard from existing metrics that needed to be expanded and refined. Visits to Ranger Creek allowed Wagner to develop a bond with the client, an aspect of consulting he says is crucial to addressing problems and delivering solutions.
“This amazing experience was not the first time, nor the last, that I applied my Trinity education to a real-world setting,” says Wagner, who starts as a PwC technology consultant after graduation. “It’s wonderful that there are companies in San Antonio that welcome students like us and allow us to work on their problems.”
Patrick Magnusson ’16, a double major in finance and BAT from Boulder, Colo., was another member of the team that produced the production dashboard. He is gratified knowing that BAT students are helping take local businesses to new heights using concepts learned in class. Ranger Creek is just one business where BAT students apply their knowledge.
Looking forward, Magnusson said his team wanted to ensure that the product they gave Ranger Creek could be iterated on in the future, as more of Colazo’s students will return next fall.
“Knowing that the product will actually be used by the client really gives you the incentive to do things right,” Magnusson says. “You learn best when you know something so well that you are able to apply and teach knowledge to somebody else.”
Art and finance double major Paola Espinosa ’16 was a member of the inventory management team that worked to optimize all of the space inside the Ranger Creek warehouse. Espinosa and her classmates created a process that allows the brewery to keep a better count of their inventory and enhance budgeting as the company expands from a small to medium-size outfit.
Originally from Quito, Ecuador, Espinosa calls this such an “important experience” because it presented the course material in a tangible way that is very different from a case study discussion or a word problem in class.
“With Ranger Creek, we were the ones doing the consulting and leading them toward a better process, not the other way around,” Espinosa says. “I learned a lot about how to work with clients, to listen to their concerns, and to work with them for a solution.”
At the end of the semester, the Ranger Creek team visited Trinity and played a role in the evaluations and grading of the deliverables the BAT students presented. Colazo says that he and Ranger Creek are “quite happy” with students’ work. They are excited to continue research next fall, just maybe with 98 bottles of beer.