Over the summer, I was selected as an APICS Supply Chain Council Scholar. As a student scholar, I was invited to attend the 2017 APICS International Conference in San Antonio, Texas from October 15th-17th. APICS is the leading provider of supply chain, operations and logistics management research, publications, and education and certification programs.
At the conference I had the opportunity to attend educational sessions, networking events, and was also paired with a mentor. Another aspect of the program was to submit a poster about a research topic of my choice for the conference. I chose to present about startups in the logistics industry.
Many of the presentations I attended focused on topics that I am interested in potentially writing my Master’s Thesis on. This included a talk from an IBM employee working on block chain in supply chain and another presentation about logistics innovation trends. Also, I had the opportunity to hear how concepts I have learned in my MTEC classes, are implemented in the ‘real world’. This included a presentation given by a Tesla employee, “Kaizen as a Way of Life”, which aligned well with what I learned in the Production Operations Management and Global Operations Strategy courses. The key note speeches were also incredible. One was by John Mackey, the Co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market and the other was from Derreck Kayongo, the founder of the Global Soap Project. Both shared valuable insight into the importance of logistics not only a global scale but the impact on individuals as well.
Each of the three days I participated in a networking luncheon where I shared my experiences studying at ETH in the MTEC program and spoke with seasoned professionals about their experiences in the industry. Finally, the last session I attended was a forum about women in supply chain. An executive of AT&T presented research from McKinsey and spoke about AT&T’s experiences with focusing on recruiting and retaining diverse employees. He shared the positive impact it has in their company from both financial and company culture perspectives. I also listened to a panel of female CEO’s about their experiences working over the years. The final activity was a group discussion with both men and women about their perspectives on the topic and brainstorming how we can all do better to encourage and foster diversity in the work place.
My participation as a Student Scholar was a great opportunity to meet with professionals and hear about their experiences in the supply chain and logistics fields. I also spent time with the other student scholars where we talked about our programs, interests and career goals. Overall, I feel it allowed me to connect what I have learned in academia and how I can apply it in industry.
In 2017, my semester project titled: “Multi-Phase Wall Warner System for Real Walking in Virtual Environments” was published and I had the chance to present it at a peer-reviewed conference. In total, the co-located 2017 IEEE 3D User Interfaces and IEEE VR conferences was 6 days long and drew in around 500-600 attendees, along with several companies and sponsors. I’d like to thank my supervisors, Prof. Andreas Kunz, Markus Zank, and Klaus Fuchs for their help throughout.
Publishing at a conference is a great way to get more exposure to the academic community and gives a window into what the world of research is like. The strongest impression I got was the sense of community and camaraderie. Rather than a competitive environment everybody I found it to be collaborative and supportive, especially among those professors and students that are mainstays in the field. It’s also a great chance to grow your network and this conference specifically, also attracted many from industry in addition to the academics. Just as much happens in the hallways and social time as does during the presentations.
Working on the semester project alone was a great and fun learning experience and is a great primer to the Master thesis. Being able to publish my work was a pleasant surprise and I highly recommend those who have the chance to attend a conference to do so. It was also a chance for me to see what others are working on and the open problems and opportunities that they think are important. This is true not only of academic research but also applied, thanks to the industry demos and interactive sessions.
Most importantly, I left the conference with ideas, inspiration, and perspective. It has helped inform my own side projects and without a doubt, the work I am doing currently on my Master thesis.
Students within the MTEC program can apply to be reimbursed for recently completed or upcoming education-related activities. The purpose of the fund is to support projects (such as building up a platform), conferences, competitions and similar activities directly related to the MTEC M.Sc. program. Application guidelines are to be found on the OBIS Student Fund page.