By Terri Hughes-Lazzell
John Macdonald, assistant professor of supply chain management at the Eli Broad College of Business, takes his students to the job—in a way.
Students in Supply Chain Management 373—Logistics and Transportation Management at Michigan State University—visit the MSU Food Stores and University Services campus warehouses and the inside of a Conway Freight semi-trailer brought specifically for the class to see exactly how what they are learning in class is applied in the real world.
“I love the experiential part of learning, the hands on,” Macdonald says. “Many students don’t fully understand logistics until they have the opportunity to experience it.”
In class, Macdonald discusses the management of warehouses and LTL—less than truckload—transportation, where different types of products from different companies can be co-mingled on the same truck at the same time. They discuss specialty hubs and that items don’t always ship point to point, and then students actually see inside a trailer and how the loads must be handled, as well as the warehouse or drop point, helping them to piece the concepts together in their minds.
“This energizes their engagement in class,” Macdonald says, adding that it also helps with the case studies they are doing for the class.
Students share those sentiments.
“This gives us real-world understanding,” said Ryan Nelson, a supply chain management senior. “When looking at our logistics case study, having the idea of the truck load and what it looks like and what it really can carry is helpful.”
Mackenzie Desautel, a junior in supply chain management, said the experience helps her to apply what’s she’s learning in class. “It brings it to life,” she said.