Our instructors work together. We train together. We're different in our backgrounds, but we share a common understanding of the language of inventory logistics and supply chain transportation and warehousing that's important to supply chain professionals.
Boulder, CO (PRWEB) December 11, 2007
A unique, two-university online program is providing supply chain expertise for professionals in two increasingly popular areas of growth in supply chain management, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).
The University of Alaska Anchorage and Boise State University have partnered through WICHE to create the Supply Chain Management Graduate Certificate -- a fully online, one-year education program which allows students to focus their studies in radio frequency identification (RFID) or operations excellence in supply chain management.
"The faculty have different strengths, different backgrounds. Boise State brings a 'lean operations' element to the program, while we have a background in RFID that ties into a systems perspective," said Janet Burton, who works directly with the online students on behalf of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA).
The setting and approach to supply chain management for each institution is as unique as the online program itself.
Alaska's Global Supply Chain Focus
Alaska is known as a leader in global supply chain management. Anchorage is an economic hub with 650 weekly air-cargo flights, as well as initial point for the fresh-seafood supply chain that moves millions of pounds of seafood throughout the lower 48 states and into international markets.
"We're at the top of planet Earth, and a gateway to the retail and wholesale markets of the U.S. and the world," said Oliver Hedgepeth, of UAA's Logistics Department.
"Many people don't realize that we are located just nine hours from all the major cities on this planet."
The University conducts logistics training with the military and counts Federal Express (FedEx), UPS, Horizon Lines, Lynden, Inc., Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Alaska Airlines, Alaska Railroad, and Carlile Transportation Systems among its departmental corporate sponsors.
Recent television shows, such as Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers, highlight the challenging characteristics of managing and maintaining a supply chain in a cold-weather climate such as Alaska.
"Few understand logistics better than Alaskans," said Tom Case, dean of the UAA College of Business and Public Policy. "Alaska may be remote for much of the U.S., but it is strategically located relative to the world's great markets."
Hedgepeth describes Alaska as a Petri dish for analyzing the multi-mode logistics demands of rail, air, ship and ground transportation.
"Our situation within Alaskan transportation assets allows our supply chain and logistics industry to experiment with better movement of goods between and among the various transportation modes," Hedgepeth said.
"Our industry-university partnership leads to more meaningful education for our students."
Boise State's Lean Operations Approach
Boise State's lean operations expertise also comes from practical application of supply chain concepts and a close tie to industry. In fact, the University is just starting its Center for Supply Chain Excellence in the College of Business and Economics.
"The faculty is heavily involved in consulting and applied research in the areas of lean operations and quality improvement," said Patrick Shannon, a lean manufacturing expert who teaches in the program for Boise State.
"[We] are called upon on a regular basis to provide training and education in supply chain related fields to private and public sector organizations."
The supply chain management faculty has consulted with the largest information technology company in the world (Hewlett-Packard) and the fifth largest U.S. supermarket chain (SuperValu). They have worked extensively in the wood products and forest industries due to Boise State's location in the middle of the northwestern U.S.
"A great example is our work with Welco Lumber Company. A lean-process improvement effort conducted at their Idaho plant resulted in annual savings for $350,000 to $500,000 in wood waste reduction," said Shannon. "The project determined that the logs were not being broken down in an optimal manner -- and through careful analysis and training -- the operators were able to increase the yield and reduce waste from each log through the mill."
Online Supply Chain Program
Just as unique as the expertise of the institutions is the two-university arrangement for teaching the online supply chain management courses. No other online graduate program has two logistics departments working together in this fashion.
"I haven't seen any other programs that are set up this way," said Shannon. "It gives our students the opportunity to widen their perspective of supply chain management like no other program, and some flexibility to fit their careers."
The 15-credit certificate allows students to take graduate-level courses conveniently around their jobs and personal lives. In addition, both university business departments are AACSB accredited,* a reassurance that the departments are meeting a high standard of quality.
"This program is for people working in governmental, military or private-sector positions who are interested in upgrading their skills and very involved in the supply chain function," said Shannon.
While students will earn graduate credits from whichever institution they choose to enroll, the program emphasizes practical knowledge that students can apply in their work environment.
Hedgepeth, who spent 30 years as an operations research analyst with the U.S. Department of Defense before joining UAA, said, "Our instructors work together. We train together. We're different in our backgrounds, but we share a common understanding of the language of inventory logistics and supply chain transportation and warehousing that's important to supply chain professionals."
NEWS IMAGE CAPTION: The business departments in the Supply Chain Management Graduate Certificate Program from Boise State University and the University of Alaska Anchorage are AACSB accredited.
*The mission of the Association of Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is to advance quality management education worldwide through accreditation and through leadership.
The University Alaska Anchorage and Boise State University partnership is coordinated by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).
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