DATA MODELING & AUTOMATED DEDUPING

BOEING

ROLE: Tauber Institute Intern & IT Intern

May, 2012 - August, 2012
May, 2013 - August, 2013

After my summer with GE I decided to mix things up a bit and moved out west to work as an IT intern at Boeing (sadly I can’t share photos because, well, it’s Boeing…). I joined on the team that distributed technical software to the partner companies that supplied parts and assemblies for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. I led the process of onboarding two partner companies so that they could receive the software they needed to complete their contracts.

While this was what I was hired for, the bulk of my time was spent focusing on our team’s internal data systems. Our team spent a large part of their week manually comparing four separate databases that contained duplicate information. However, the information in each of these systems was controlled by separate teams within Boeing, causing inaccuracies between the systems that were not easily noticed. I consolidated these four databases and developed an algorithm in VBA to first compare the duplicate content, then identify and rectify those inconsistencies across the databases. This new, cleaned dataset was used by our 30-person team as a regular replacement for manual comparison and provided the business case for consolidating the four databases.

After this internship I began my senior year of college and formally joined the Tauber Institute for Global Operations (Tauber) at the University of Michigan as an engineering Master's student through the Engineering Global Leadership Honors Program. Tauber is a program that brings business, engineering, and supply chain management master’s students together to develop their leadership and professional skills. Then the Tauber program places these students as operations management consultants in teams of 2-4 at major firms that are mostly engineering and tech focused.

I joined Adam, another master’s student in engineering, to work again on Boeing’s 787 IT systems. This time, however, I was focused on the data flow within Boeing’s internal IT systems as information moved from engineering design, through manufacturing, assembly, and finally into certification. We focused on two major problems: a single data transfer that would occassionally build up very large backlogs of work, and the inconsistent airplane certification report generation process.

After developing a thorough model to understand why the data transfer was performing poorly, we recognized that there were two options on how to resolve it: purchase more computing power or introduce prioritization. While purchasing computing power is easy to do, it is costly and that extra power is only useful during peaks in demand. Alternately, we proposed a prioritization scheme in which a small portion of data transfers could be tagged as ‘high priority’ by their owners, making sure that critical changes would be delivered on time even if there was a large backlog. With this change, high priority data transfers could arrive as much as 3 hours earlier, letting the receiving teams get to work sooner.

The IT certification process compares the different IT systems to make sure that everything that should be in that plane made it there, and nothing else. In order to generate the reports indicating airplane readiness, over a dozen upstream systems need to process their respective data analysis and then the results of each need to be compiled and compared. These systems often had issues or delays and the final certification reports would be correspondingly delayed. Accordingly, I built a Bayesian predictive model that determined the likelihood of a delay up to 12 hours before the report was scheduled to be generated. This allowed us to alert the recipients of these certification reports ahead of time so they could identify and resolve the upstream problem and bring the schedule back on track.

I enjoyed both of my summers in Seattle with Boeing, which were each full of all sorts of different challenges. While I considered joining on full-time after I graduated, I decideded I needed to give entrepreneurship a real chance first.

Continue to read more about launching A2B Bikeshare, which I was doing concurrently with my work at Boeing.

ENTREPRENEUR, DEVELOPER, MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURER

Currently wandering around the Americas by motorcycle. Interested in software development jobs.

me@keithbporter.com