Higher Education and Technology

University supply chain program ranks No. 2 in US

February 16, 2015
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Students on Western Michigan University’s main campus in Kalamazoo, near the Chemistry Building. Photo via fb.com

A university that gives future supply chain management professionals experience in technology ranks No. 2 among the nation’s top programs.

Western Michigan University said last week that its Integrated Supply Management program, or ISM, at the Haworth College of Business earned the ranking by Software Advice for its blend of engineering, information technology and manufacturing courses at the undergraduate level.

Software Advice is a software resource firm that provides independent research and reviews.

The firm conducted a national study examining 15 top supply chain management programs, due to the rising demand for expertise in technology, software and quantitative tools in the profession. The firm said that digital tools are “the backbone of major supply chain operations.”

Penn State University ranks No. 1.

Michigan State University ranks No. 8 at the undergraduate level and No. 11 at the graduate level.

The University of Michigan ranks No. 2 for its graduate programming for supply chain education.

WMU ranking

Several factors contributed to WMU’s second-place spot: required courses on enterprise resource planning and geographic information systems; an additional requirement to take at least six manufacturing engineering courses; and its No. 5 ranking in undergraduate supply chain education by Gartner.

Forrest Burnson, research associate at Software Advice, said WMU’s integrated supply management program is truly special.

“It ranked highly on our list due to the emphasis the program places on teaching software and technology in the classroom, in addition to its unique cross-discipline approach that requires students to take specialized engineering courses,” Burnson said. “WMU is well ahead of the curve in preparing a new generation of supply chain professionals, and other universities should look to the example it has set for what a truly modern supply chain management program looks like.”

Supply chain program

WMU said its program is one of four schools with both a high-technology emphasis and a high-reputation rating in the ranking.

Sime Curkovic, professor of management and director of the ISM program at WMU, said that from a business standpoint, the program is very similar to competing universities, but WMU requires students to take twice as many classes and hours by incorporating engineering and information technology components.

“Obviously, we were pleased,” Curkovic said. “It externally validates the quality of the program, which internally we have known the quality of the program for some time.”

A number of components in the program have been developed by faculty in collaboration with an advisory council comprising representatives from top supply chain employers in the country.

With the industry saying engineering experience and information technology are important, Curkovic said the university listened to the feedback and is flexible enough to adapt to changes.

Methodology

“The Top Universities for Supply Chain Technology” ranking by Software Advice is intended to provide a benchmarking tool for prospective students.

Software Advice aggregated recent rankings from U.S. News & World Report, Gartner and an industry publication known as SCM World to develop its ranking of 15 universities and their supply management programs.

Based on a university’s ranking and presence on nationally recognized lists, the firm then examined curriculum and course syllabi to measure the number of software and technology elements incorporated in each program.

The universities were then rated on a scale of zero to three based on the hands-on instruction provided to students and the depth of material presented. 

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