GEC Scenario #78: Stuttgart Foam

This sample scenario is from a collection of 70+ Global Engineering Competency (GEC) scenarios developed for instructional and assessment purposes. For more information, including links to usage tips and other supporting resources, visit our About page.

You are employed as a packaging engineer for a company that designs and manufactures custom integrated circuits. After recently merging with a German firm that specializes in assembling and testing electronic modules, the number of chips shipped from your U.S. facility to their plant near Stuttgart has increased rapidly. In the wake of the merger, you have also been preparing to retrofit some of your transport packaging lines to use a biodegradable foam insert recommended by your counterparts in Germany. Yet before you can implement the change, you get a call from Jens Wolf, the engineer in charge of engineered materials procurement at the Stuttgart facility. He tells you that they cannot recycle or dispose of the old petroleum-based foam inserts “your system” has been sending them. Jens goes on to demand that you immediately switch to the new packaging process. However, you still have about three months worth of the old foam inserts in your inventory, and at present they are only being sent to Germany. How would you handle this situation? 

  1. Tell Jens you can implement the new packaging process sooner if his unit can cover your inventory disposal costs.
  2. Apologize to Jens for the problem and ask him to suggest possible solutions.
  3. Tell Jens you need to use up your inventory, and in the meantime, you will split any costs associated with having the old inserts shipped back to you for reuse or recycling.
  4. Tell Jens you will expedite implementation of the new process, and in the meantime, you will cover costs associated with having the old inserts shipped back to you for reuse or recycling.
  5. Turn the issue over to your immediate supervisor.
  6. Tell Jens it is simply not possible to implement the new process until the old inserts are used up.

Recommended Uses: INSTRUCTION/TRAINING (see our GEC Resource Guide for additional guidance)

Citation: Jesiek, B. K. and Woo, S. E. (Eds.). (2018). GEC Scenario #78: Stuttgart Foam. Retrieved from

License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1160455 and 1254323. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We also acknowledge support for this work from Purdue's Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship, Assessment and Research (CILMAR).