Lilly TMP: October-November 2018 Progress

The Team Master’s Project (TMP) at Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) is a degree requirement for several degree programs in the Henry E. Riggs School of Applied Life Sciences. The TMP provides students an opportunity to tackle real-life industry problems or opportunities as, essentially, a consulting team for a company.

KGI will be following the TMP team working with global pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly & Company throughout the year to showcase monthly progress and development, illuminate the inner-workings of a TMP, and watch how students develop professionally and personally.

tmp team working

The Lilly TMP team kicked off its year-long project on September 14, 2018. The goal? To help Lilly develop a Holistic Laboratory Automation Strategy. Specifically, the five-member KGI team will conduct a review of the current life science lab automation landscape. From this effort, critical strategic attributes of well-integrated automation systems will be defined. Additionally, landscaping should identify emerging lab automation technologies, especially those incorporating “intelligent” automation.

Accomplishments during the first six weeks:

Michael C, student

Going into the project, our team did not have a very firm grasp on the nuances of lab automation. But through our secondary research, we have begun to understand the competitive landscape of the project.

Eric F, student

The most significant thing we have accomplished within the last six weeks was to create surveys for different functional roles. That is, specific sets of survey questions have been developed for upper management stakeholders (senior directors or VP-level individuals), leaders of lab automation teams (directors or scientific group leaders), and direct users of lab automation (scientists, engineers, and technicians). By interviewing different functions, we can gain the broader perspective needed to propose a holistic lab automation strategy for Lilly.

Emma C, student

I would say the most significant accomplishment these past six weeks has been our sense of teamwork. We have great communication, and we’ve created a sense of camaraderie within the group.

Professional and personal developments during the first six weeks:

Revanth S, student

I am a very good team player and my one semester experience with a TMP last year has made it easier to settle down in the team. I have allocated more time to the TMP than I used to since the work is a bit more demanding. In addition to this, I have been taking the internal deadlines more seriously to get the work done in time so that I have enough time to help others in need.  

Eric F, student

Being the team calendar coordinator, I have to schedule—and re-schedule—a lot of events. Even though there are fewer than 10 of us on the extended team of KGI and Lilly, it can become very confusing. I have learned to organize all the events on a weekly basis, using a Google calendar to keep track of invitations to both KGI and Lilly teams. I also learned to send the invites at least a week in advance so if there are any mix ups, there is plenty of time remedy the confusion.

Emma C, student

Coming into this TMP as an undergraduate student majoring in biology, I felt like the least experienced member of the group. Thanks to my team’s endless kindness and helpfulness, I have learned tons about laboratory automation, research protocols, and especially about business in general.

Jim Sterling, Faculty Advisor

The team has learned a lot about the various players in lab automation. They have completed some secondary research and learned what kinds of automation technologies fall out-of-scope for this project. The Lilly liaisons are wonderful and provide very good weekly feedback to ensure students are on-track. The upcoming several weeks will be very important to ensure that the students can collect important data through surveys and interviews of providers and users. This will offer them a sound understanding of the way automation is currently used in pharma—important as a baseline for the rest of the project.