Of Snow, Friendships & Learning

Written By: Priya Andleigh

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Early in January, as the storm deposited a fresh layer of snow on the MIT dome, preparations continued in full swing at the Centre for Transportation and Logistics for Independent Activities Period (IAP). After all, 107 students from SCALE centers in Latin America (GCLOG), Europe (ZLOG) and Asia (MISI) were joining us for an action-packed 3 weeks!

As we welcomed our friends from around the world to Cambridge, little did we know that one-part snow, two-parts group projects with a sprinkle of field trips would be a perfect recipe for cross-continental friendships.

Days began on a high note with an impressive line-up of speakers, with senior leadership from renowned companies – GE, Walmart, BASF, AB InBev and Flex – sharing their supply chain wisdom with us. Speakers from various schools at MIT fascinated us with everything from 3D printed airplane engine parts to demographics of the future. It was a privilege to listen to not just the inspiring speakers but also the enriching discussion with such a diverse audience.  There were ample opportunities to put all the learning to practice. One of the first group projects was the Boston APICS Case Competition. In teams comprising students from different programs, we wore our entrepreneur hats to seek innovative applications of new technologies such as Blockchain, 3D-Printing, Internet of Things etc.

As teams battled through, a simulation game “Fresh Connection” was introduced to us. We were handed a company struggling to make profits and had to turn it around in 6 rounds! Sounds daunting? Oh it was, but with the whole package of learning and excitement. Using our supply chain knowledge was important, but communicating effectively with our team was key. As some of us felt the pain of negative ROIs while others reveled in their company’s rising profits, the game taught us how to function well as a team. Lessons learnt during our leadership communication workshops certainly came in handy.

When not fretting over the financial statements of our fictitious company (with VERY real prizes at the end!), we visited warehouses and distribution centers around Boston to see supply chains in action. There was something for everyone – a visit to Walgreens DC, AB InBev Brewery, Amazon Robotics, Quiet Logistics and Boston Food Bank. To top it all off, we got an opportunity to present our research projects to the supply chain community during the flagship event – Research Expo 2017.

Along with bonding over academic activities, we stole some time for letting our hair down (my Spanish song knowledge achieved new heights, thanks to our Spanish and Latin American friends!). And lo and behold, 3 weeks flew by. The snow around us had melted, as had our program boundaries. IAP had not just helped us enhance our supply chain knowledge and hone our leadership skills, but also given us many new friends, and even more memories.

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