Gone are the days of spending a college career sitting in lecture halls taking notes on supply chain theory. Today's supply management students are getting firsthand, real-life experiences -- inside and outside the classroom -- through collaborations between their universities and companies that have a supply management focus. They are engaged in experiential learning by touring supply chain facilities, attending discussion and lecture forums by guest speakers from such companies as DuPont and Johnson & Johnson, participating in case studies, and securing internships and, after graduation, jobs.
One such center is the Center for Supply Chain Management at Rutgers Business School. The center is codirected by John Impellizzeri, a former C-suite executive at Schindler Elevator Corp. who previously was a member of the center's advisory board. "Advisory board members (who generally number between 15 and 20) are the highest-level strategic partnerships we have," says Impellizzeri, now a professor in Rutgers' supply chain management department. "There are many companies we partner with at different levels, but this group of companies is most strategic. We share a commitment to continuously innovating our curriculum and thoroughly preparing our students."
When Rutgers established its supply management program in 2007, one of the founding principles was incorporating both academic rigor and industry relevance, says Impellizzeri. "Our strategic partners help us achieve that objective. We're not short on academics, but we need to make sure we are staying very relevant to the industry trends," he says. "This can be done by creating curriculum that keeps up with those trends, by offering experiential education and by developing courses based on real-life industry projects."
Impellizzeri says that while he was on the advisory board, Rutgers' supply management students in an industry-client project course built Schindler Elevator a tool for forecasting raw metal commodities that the company is still using. "This consulting arrangement would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if you contracted this with one of the top consulting firms," he says. "It's a win-win for the companies and the students, who gain valuable real-world experience. It's this type of rigorous-relevant education and training that makes our students highly sought after when they graduate."