Graduate students from 42 countries recently gathered at MIT to showcase innovative research projects that aim to strategically transform — on a global scale befitting their many points of origin — major industries such as manufacturing, retail, and transportation.
“I share your desire to make positive global impact. I am both inspired and impressed by this showcase of your research,” said Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the MIT School of Engineering, as he welcomed more than 180 graduate students and about 200 industry professionals to the 2019 MIT Global Supply Chain and Logistics Excellence (SCALE) Network Research Expo.
He congratulated Yossi Sheffi, the Elisha Gray II Professor of Engineering Systems, director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, and director of the master’s program in supply chain management, and his team for the vision and realization of world-leading supply chain educational and research programs.
The MIT Supply Chain Management Program (SCM) is an intensive 10-month program that mixes leadership development, analytical training, and real-world problem solving through the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics’ powerful industry and alumni networks.
“You are standing in a global center of innovation. You are surrounded by people who share your values,” said Chandrakasan, the Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, to the crowd on the packed sixth floor of the Media Lab.
The synergy was apparent as industry professionals dove into animated discussion about the industry-sponsored research projects on display. MIT graduate students Atmaja Sinha and Rakesh Thykandi spoke with executives from trucking companies about their work to reduce transportation costs for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies.
"FMCG companies ship thousands of loads every year through various trucking companies, and they incur millions of dollars in expenses,” said Thykandi. He and Sinha are using index-based pricing to help companies streamline their shipping contracts. “So the end game is that you end up with a lower cost.”
“We are getting valuable perspectives on what might work or not work, and we’re planning to incorporate all of the feedback,” added Sinha, whose project poster was titled, “Alternate Pricing Model for Transportation Contracts.” “I’m speaking to a lot of carriers in the U.S. market,” she added. “I think we’re doing something very new. If this project works, and we are quite sure that it will, it could revolutionize the transportation industry.”
Carla Alvarado and Yangfei Liu, also graduate students in the MIT supply chain management program, are focused on reducing transportation costs within the e-commerce industry with a project called, “Buy Online, Pick Up in Store.”
“We’re running an optimized model to develop the best solution for a selection of stores to both minimize costs for the company and minimize CO2 emissions,” said Alvarado.
The Research Expo is hosted by the Institute for Supply Management, MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, MIT Supply Chain Management, and MIT Global SCALE Network.
This year also marked the launch of an annual full-tuition scholarship from the MIT SCM program and AWESOME, a group that encourages women to prepare for and perform successfully in supply chain leadership roles. The applicant profiles in response to the scholarship were so strong that the organizers decided to award one full scholarship and two additional half scholarships. Elizabeth Raman, logistics data analyst at The Home Depot, received the full scholarship award. Gabriela Lamas, process engineer at Johnson & Johnson, and Victoria Brown, program manager in global supply chain management at International Data Corporations, each received half-tuition awards. All three of these finalists attended the event.