Today’s guest post is from Lauren Willison, the Director of Admissions at Florida Polytechnic University.
Today’s logisticians require more than a just basic planning and routing skills to succeed. This is due in large part to the continued development of cutting-edge technology such as robotics and automated machinery, which requires logistics employers to look for professionals with advanced technical expertise. Universities are matching this demand by offering logistics degree programs that focus on STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering, and math — in a hands-on learning environment.
A higher education in STEM offers the best training for the logistics field because it offers students tactical knowledge to improve logistics management and adjust to an evolving industry landscape. Here’s how:
Extensive Training in Technology
The STEM disciplines are unique in the academic world because they are quick to change and adapt to evolving industries and careers. STEM-focused institutions stay up-to-speed by offering students exposure to emerging technologies such as 3D printing. According to EFT’s 2015 3PL and Contracting Report, 19.2 percent of manufacturers and retailers use 3D printing in their businesses; however, only 1.5 percent have the expertise, knowledge and services to use these technologies effectively. STEM students have the opportunity to use 3D printers, for example, and practice producing exact replicas of parts and products. Increasing proficiency with new technology allows STEM-educated logisticians to make faster, cheaper, more reliable and more sustainable deliveries.
An interdisciplinary education builds well-rounded logisticians and supply chain professionals who can eliminate the skills gap in the field. Although STEM focuses on four subjects, a STEM education provides in-depth training in a wide range of technical subjects that logisticians should know. With courses ranging from hazardous materials management to Six Sigma applications, students can apply textbook concepts to in-class activities modeled after real-world problems.
Logistics is no longer a field where employees can rely on just hard skills. Soft skills, such as time management and leadership ability, is essential to move forward in a logistics career. A STEM education develops a healthy combination of both skill sets, and provides a more managerial perspective on production and services in logistics. Students in STEM learn to efficiently manage logistics processes by studying concepts such as product design, inventory control and capacity management. During the process, they also learn how to work in teams, balance heavy workloads and think strategically to improve shipping and distribution processes.
Low Student-to-Faculty Ratios and Internships
Universities wholly dedicated to STEM often boast better student-to-faculty ratios. This means students receive more individualized attention from their professors, from extra help on assignments to career advice. Students who take advantage of this dynamic gain a more wholesome perspective on the logistics industry.
Additionally, some STEM universities will partner with key players in the logistics and supply chain industry. This opens up research and internship opportunities and allows students to gain valuable field experience. An internship, particularly one with a prominent or well-respected logistics company, gives students the chance to apply new skills, excel in the field and play an active role in improving the way society manages logistics.