It's About Time

Sept. 14, 2014

By Jon Cooper
The Good Word

You don’t have to convince Nathan Rakitt that every second of every day counts.

He learned all about that over the summer.

As part of his internship with UPS, Rakitt, was part of a group helping drivers optimize delivery time and learned that time really could be money.

“Everything, every move they make is so calculated,” he said. “How many steps they take to take a box out of the back of the truck, how long it takes them to write a note saying that they missed you and they’ll be back the next day, how long they’re supposed to wait if they knock and you aren’t there.

“That’s what we worked on the entire summer,” he continued. “We broke down absolutely everything to the smallest little finger shift of a pen. It was mind-blowing how much time they could cut out and essentially save the company millions and millions and millions of dollars a day. Because you think about it, you save one second per package drop-off. They do about 100 to 200 deliveries or pickups a day, hundreds of thousands of drivers throughout the world. It’s huge money and to see that our project was actually going to be applied within the next year or so, hopefully, was something pretty cool to be a part of.”

Everything was broken down, according to UPS’s own unit of time-study measurement, called Mastered Standard Data (MSD) and led to an incredible number of variables in every single delivery.

“They’re able to break down every single movement that you do to a certain time allowance. They break them down into something called TMUs, which is 1/27.8th of a second,” he said. “Everything has a different type of code. I think there were 65 different scenarios that we broke down. What we did was we basically coded out, using these different MSD data codes everything that they do. It was just incredible to see how broken down everything is that a driver does. After seeing it for just three months, really, I see them in a completely new light. Next time you see a UPS driver give him a hug or something. Those guys, they start at 8:00, 9:00 a.m. every day and they don’t get back until sometimes 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 at night. It’s just non-stop. Hundreds and hundreds of deliveries or pickups. It’s phenomenal.”

Rakitt’s brief history of time gave him a greater appreciation for making every spare second of his summer days count when it came to practice at the Ken Byers Tennis Complex.

“I would do weights before I got to work in the morning,” he said. “I was sitting in a cubicle all day. I would come back here and practice in the afternoon. There would be traffic going back to where I was staying up in Dunwoody, it was just a very, very, long, tough summer.

That urgency and commitment has been beneficial to Rakitt, as he played in the BB&T Atlanta Open, in which he learned plenty despite a qualifying round elimination by former University of Virginia star Michael Shabaz. He learned even more at the ITA Summer Championship, in Indianapolis, in which he recorded straight-set victories over Michigan State’s Jasper Koenen, Notre Dame’s Nicolas Montoya, South Carolina’s Thomas Mayronne and Wake Forest’s Anthony Delcore in reaching the Semifinals, before falling to the Tournament’s top seed and eventual champion Sam Monette of Indiana.

This weekend, Rakitt led Georgia Tech into the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, to participate in the first matches of the Fall season, at the 2014 Southern Intercollegiate Championships, the oldest collegiate tennis event in the South. He was entered in singles, where he was the No. 3 overall seed, and in doubles, where he teamed with freshman Chris Eubanks, to whom he served as mentor over the summer.

After a first-round bye on Friday in singles and an 8-3 victory with Eubanks over Vanderbilt’s team of Pen Binet and Rhys Johnson, as part of Georgia Tech’s overall 4-2 day, he lost in singles to Pablo Gor of Armstrong Atlantic State, but advanced with Eubanks, beating Bartosz Sawicki and Luis Valero of Tennessee, 8-4. He and Eubanks will play their quarterfinal match, on Sunday against Gor and his partner, Fernando Bogajo.

Even with the singles setback, Georgia Tech Men’s Tennis Coach Kenny Thorne believes Rakitt’s time to excel is now.

“Nathan’s been fun to watch because he has developed each year,” Thorne said. “He came in and did better and better his freshman year but the second year you come out and you get a little more of a target on you. If you start looking backwards you’re in trouble. He was able to keep focused on looking ahead and that’s what you look for each year. He had a pretty good season last season so he’s going to have a few more targets on him and you get those expectations up a little. He’s been a very good leader for us and I know he wants to do well in singles this year but he also wants to have a good doubles year. I think that’s going to be important for him.”

That starts with excelling this weekend in Athens and, he hopes carries through the fall and then the spring. The summer taught him there’s no time like the present and he appreciates the perspective the summer gave him.

“Looking back on it, it was definitely a tough summer,” he said. “Probably not too many other kids I know went through that. But I’m glad I went through it. It toughened me up in the way that I couldn’t have done anywhere else.

“When I got here and I finally got back on campus, when I walked into a classroom, I was like, ‘Gosh, this is so EASY now,’” he added. “Everyone else is moaning and groaning, ‘Oh, I have an 8:00 a.m. class.’ I’m like, ‘This is so EASY!’ It’s a different mentality going into this year. That’s for sure.”

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