Led by Bob Murray, a GSCM adjunct professor and chairman of supply chain consulting firm REM Associates, the students were asked to research and report on the capabilities, strengths and issues with the expanded Panama Canal and major East Coast American ports that receive goods from the canal as a result of its expansion.
The recent Panama Canal expansion, completed in June 2016, included the addition of new locks and the widening and deepening of existing channels to accommodate larger cargo ships — called New Panamax — that can accommodate container ships with significant larger cargos.
The Rider students looked at issues resulting from the expansion, such as poor construction, and completed analyses on the ability of American ports to handle the larger ships. They presented their findings to senior leadership of the company at the end of the semester.
“We examined data on the canal as well as the ability of ports to handle the larger ships, including access, infrastructure, funding potential, government support and connections to railways and highways to move cargo once it’s off the ship,” said student Kamalika Sharma. “This real-world challenge is the kind of project we all hope to work on professionally — it was a great experience and can be attractive to potential employers.”
According to Murray, the company is already using the analysis for planning global supply chain operations and shipping their products through the Panama Canal and to the various American and international ports.
“The students impressed the company executives and did an extremely fine job,” said Murray. “In addition to learning how to manage a large-scale corporate research project, they learned the importance of presenting and proposing a concept or point of view, a critical skill in the business world.”