Smeal, IBM Partner on New Supply Chain Research Lab

Penn State biz school links with other labs to let faculty, students test supply network relationships

Penn State biz school links with other labs to let faculty, students test supply network relationships

University Park, PA — October 13, 2005 — The Smeal College of Business at Penn State University will team with IBM on October 28 to open the new Supply Chain Laboratory, which is being relocated to Smeal's new Business Building on the University Park campus.

A Shared University Research (SUR) award from IBM provided Smeal with IBM software, server and storage technology to create the initial On-Demand Supply Chain Research Laboratory in the fall of 2003. The new lab is outfitted with additional IBM hardware and will double as a classroom for Smeal students.

Penn State's lab is linked with similar IBM labs around the world at Michigan State University, Arizona State University, University College Dublin and National University of Singapore. The interconnected grid, powered by IBM hardware and software, allows faculty and students at these universities to collaborate in studying, simulating and testing the key relationships in an end-to-end supply chain.

Supply Chain Skills

"The unique supply chain simulations occurring because of this collaborative effort help IBM and other companies build dynamic supply chains that can sense and rapidly respond to changing customer demands and market conditions," IBM said in announcing the new laboratory. "The labs also provide hands-on experience to students, equipping them with the skills they need to launch a successful career in supply chain management."

"We have already reaped substantial benefits from our partnership with IBM, both in the classroom and in our ability to provide today's multinational corporations with valuable research," said John E. Tyworth, chair of the Department of Supply Chain and Information Systems (SCIS) at Smeal. "Because we are working together with four other schools, we have the potential to authentically simulate supply chains in a manner that was never before possible, and that's enhancing the education of our students, and making the research network a valuable resource to the business world."

"Corporate and university partnerships are vital in driving innovation," says Linda Cantwell, vice president for business growth initiatives with IBM Integrated Supply Chain. "Students who understand how to use open standards and grid technologies to simulate the supply chain's ability to respond to real company business problems will be in high demand upon graduation and bring a competitive advantage to the supply chain of their employer."

Grads in Demand

Students in supply chain are already highly sought, according to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. It reports the highest demand in more than 10 years for college graduates to fill entry-level supply chain positions.

The new lab will officially open on October 28 following a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring representatives from IBM and Smeal. The half-day schedule of events also includes an interaction session between top IBM executives, SCIS department faculty, and MBA and Ph.D. students.

The On-Demand Supply Chain Research Laboratory at Smeal is supported by IBM software technologies, including Websphere and AIX, which are made available to Penn State faculty and researchers via the IBM Scholars program. Information about the Scholars program is available at:

IBM's Shared University Research program awards computing equipment (servers, storage systems, personal computing products, etc.) to colleges, universities and institutions of higher education to facilitate research projects in areas of mutual interest, including life sciences, grid computing, autonomic computing and deep computing. IBM gives approximately 50 to 60 SUR awards per year worldwide.

Additional Articles of Interest

— For an in-depth look IBM's supply chain transformation initiative, read the interview with Linda Cantwell, IBM vice president for business growth initiatives, in the article "Breaking the Silo Mentality" in the April/May 2004 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

— Supply chain executives are discovering new ways to apply technology and innovative processes to the challenge of managing uncertainty. Read more in "Rethinking Risk," cover story in the August/September 2005 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

— Eugene McCabe, architect of Sun Microsystems' Customer Fulfillment in Transit process, discusses the challenges and rewards of taking links out of the company's supply chain in "Anatomy of the 'Zero Touch' Supply Chain," in the August/September 2005 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.