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The University of West Florida has launched the Center for Supply Chain Management Excellence in response to identified workforce needs throughout the region, state and country, officials announced Thursday.

The center was created through the Next Big Thing program, established by UWF President Martha Saunders in Spring 2017. The program is designed to help foster engagement by enhancing the natural connections between students, faculty, industry and government and creating opportunities for partners to engage with the university in mutually beneficial activities.

“The center focuses on connecting faculty, students and companies in a meaningful way,” said Dr. Scott Keller, center director and professor of logistics. “Although we’ve been doing that since I came to campus 13 years ago, the center serves as a structure that businesses better understand as conduit for engagement and mutual benefit.”

The center, housed within the UWF College of Business, encourages collaboration among students, industry and faculty through real-world, relevant research. Keller, along with Bruce Brown, a senior supply chain logistics management major, and graduate student, Giovana Patitucci, recently performed research at a local company and presented their findings to the owner and corporate management. Their research was accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Journal of Transportation Management, co-authored by Keller and Dr. Bob Kimball, professor of marketing and economics.

“Sometimes, there is a great divide between academic research and company research,” Keller said. “To bridge this gap, the center brings together companies, faculty and students on collaborative research that aims to solve real world business problems.”

The center also promotes internships with leading companies in around the country. Supply chain logistics management graduates have successfully launched careers with Amazon, John Deere, Ascend, CSX, Crane Worldwide Logistics, UPS, Target, QMotion, NASA and more.

The center also houses the Supply Chain Logistics Association, which helps members build their resumes and connects them with recruiters from across the U.S. Each semester, members go on tours of local facilities that require logistics and supply chain management every day, including Ascend Performance Materials, Gulf Power, Hyundai manufacturing plant, Family Dollar and Lewis Bear Company distribution centers as well as ports in Pensacola and Mobile.

To learn more about the Center for Supply Chain Management Excellence, visit uwf.edu/supplychain.

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