History of Supply Chain Program
The supply chain management program at the Robert H. Smith School of Business
has come a long way since it began in the 1950s. The program, ranked No. 8 among
undergraduate specialty programs and No. 15 among MBA specialty programs by the
U.S. News & World Report in 2010 ,
started as a transportation program before evolving into the program it is today.
At that time, transportation companies were highly regulated by the government,
so the Smith School’s logistics department dealt with transportation regulation,
from a carrier perspective as well as from a regulatory and user perspective. Students
focused on regulatory issues. But in the late 1970s, the government started to deregulate
the transportation industry. As they did, the program at Smith shifted from a transportation
regulation focus to a broader logistics focus.
“If you go back to the late ’70s and early ’80s, there were a lot of schools
with a transportation focus,” says Phil Evers, associate professor of logistics
management. “Over time the logistics field evolved into a broader supply chain focus.
The schools that you see now with supply chain management programs are those who
saw the end of regulation and adapted accordingly.”
Supply chain management professionals ensure products are available to customers
in the right condition and quantity and at the right time, place and cost. For example,
they make sure that a product overseas makes it onto the boat that will ship it
to the United States. From the boat, the product is loaded on a plane and flown
halfway across the country. The product switches transportation modes, riding in
the back of a truck to a distribution center. From the distribution center, it is
inventoried before it heads to the shelves at a local store.
Supply chain professionals apply models to increase the efficiency of organizations,
using problem solving to deal with the many challenges that present themselves during
the day, says Evers.
In addition to class work, students work in the Netcentric Supply Chain Lab,
which is located in Van Munching Hall. There, they can use state-of-the-art software
applications to develop ways of increasing the efficiency of the flow of goods and
services across organizations, from suppliers, to manufactures, to retailers, to
Faculty use the lab to create web-based e-learning courseware for supply chain
management instruction, sponsored by the Logistics Management Institute; research
a portal for intermodal transportation systems in the state of Maryland, sponsored
by the Maryland Department of Transportation; and study scalable supply chain infrastructures,
sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Co-curricular activities, such as visiting the Port of Baltimore, keep students
actively engaged with learning while giving them the tools to be more marketable
when it comes time to look for a job.
And jobs, according to Evers, are one of the main reasons students choose to
be in the supply chain program: “There actually are jobs in supply chain,” says
Evers. “Some of our major employers are consulting firms, like Ernst and Young,
or defense contractors, like Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman, and many of the
big manufacturers in the east, like Black & Decker, Johnson & Johnson and Unilever.”
Today, the supply chain management program has grown immensely, with enrollment
in the program doubling in the last year alone. The spike is something Evers attributes
to the hands-on nature of the program: “Accounting is very technical; finance and
marketing are kind of sexy. But there are a lot more opportunities to be hands on
in the supply chain management program. You aren’t just stuck in a cubicle all day.”
Supply chain management majors often double major with complimentary majors,
such as Operations Management, Marketing, Information Systems, International Business
and Finance. They also are able to take advantage of the close proximity of the
campus to both Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
“One of the things that make our students and our program different is the opportunities
that come with being located in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area. There are so
many places for internships and hands-on experiences.”
A good example of the wide array of opportunities for supply chain majors at
Smith is the annual Industry Day career fair. This
year, more than 30 employers showed up to recruit at the supply-chain specific career
fair on Oct. 15, 2010.
Now in its 18th year, Industry Day brings students, faculty, alumni and recruiters
with supply chain backgrounds together for unique networking opportunities. One
of the recruiters at this year’s Industry Day was a Smith alumna who found her full-time
job during Industry Day when she was an undergraduate.
“Industry day started in the 1993-94 school year when a group of supply chain
students wanted to have a career fair and industry day for themselves. Faculty members
help support however we can, but the students really bear the brunt of the responsibility,
both at the undergraduate and graduate level,” explains Evers. “My favorite part
of Industry Day is seeing supply chain alumni coming back to recruit. This year,
there were three booths right in a row that had a student I had taught in the past
Supply Chain Management Center (SCMC)
The Supply Chain Management Center (SCMC) explores the complex challenges and
surprising new risks faced by supply chain professionals. “X-Treme Supply Chain
Management: A Guide to Mastering Business Volatility,” – co-edited by Thomas Corsi, SCMC co-director, Sandor Boyson, research professor
and SCMC co-director, and Michelle E. Smith Professor of Logistics and senior fellow
Lisa Harrington – points to a new landscape of volatility, brought on by the financial
crisis and recession, the credit freeze, skyrocketing fuel prices, increased globalization,
war, terrorism, catastrophic natural disasters, and the green revolution.
“Old models of balancing supply and demand are no longer effective,” says Boyson.
“It is critical that industry and government leaders work together to address extreme
business volatility issues in the global supply chain.”
At an event on Oct. 5, 2010, in Washington, D.C., senior officials and supply
chain managers from federal agencies, defense contractors, corporations and organizations
joined together at a roundtable discussion hosted by SCMC. Participants talked about
the supply chains within their own organizations and discussed the volatility they
deal with in their current operating environment. They talked about what their organizations
are doing differently than before to address volatility, and the emerging challenges
The discussion was led by Rick Blasgen, president and CEO of the Council of Supply
Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP). Participants included leaders from the U.S.
Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Defense University,
Lockheed Martin, Defense Logistic Agency, National Institutes of Health, NASA, LMI,
U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, and McCormick & Co.
Learn more about the supply chain
program at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business