GSC Intro Class Puts Pedal to the Metal
Two spandex-clad riders whizzed into the building, disappearing from view. As the BYU Marriott School students and their advisor stepped into the warehouse, the smell of rubber, aluminum, and cardboard—components of freshly manufactured bicycles—welcomed them into biker paradise.
Though untried in the field of global supply chain, the four students and GSC professor Simon Greathead were at Specialized Bicycles’ second-largest warehouse, gearing up for an incredible opportunity. The international bike manufacturing company’s director of global logistics, Howard Silverman, had a pressing supply chain query for them, and their task was to analyze it and present a solution in thirty-three days.
Silverman’s question was whether the company was wasting valuable space and resources by shipping thousands of containers that were only partially full from Asia, where the bicycle parts were manufactured, to markets all over the world.
“It was definitely a growth project,” says Justin Millheim, a student from Farmington, Utah. “We weren’t as qualified going into it, but we gained confidence as we broke the project into manageable pieces, learning what we needed to as we went and getting Professor Greathead’s input. It felt more like an internship with the amount of time and energy we’d put into it.”
After crunching data for four and a half weeks, Millheim and fellow students Austin Schouten from Centerville, Utah; Robert Bowers from Mesa, Arizona; and Nathan Thorley from St. Louis, Missouri, presented their findings to Silverman on 12 April.
“They did a great job and hit everything I wanted them to hit on,” Silverman says. “There was a lot of data, and they made it speak the right way. They put good analysis into their work. I thought that was pretty cool because this is a huge project to work on as students in a class.”
The opportunity with Specialized Bicycles came to the students through a curriculum change the global supply chain program is piloting. The original introduction to supply chain class, a three-credit lecture course, was split into two one-and-a-half credit classes.
The first part, which is offered to all students on campus, is mostly online and teaches concepts out of a textbook, with a small amount of class time in person.
The second part covers more complex material and is only available to Marriott School students, who apply the concepts they learn to real-client projects, like the consulting work Millheim and the other students did for Specialized Bicycles.
“This is the global supply chain program’s response to BYU president Kevin J Worthen and Marriott School dean Lee Perry’s mandate to optimize teaching and give more students access to the blessings and opportunities here at BYU,” Greathead says. “This class gives more students the opportunity to look into supply chain as a possible study option and career. I’m excited to take my passion for supply chain and share it with students.”