Posts in Category: University life

Great oral examation for his PhD – Congratulations, Linh Duong!

A couple of weeks ago, one of my students completed his oral examination, where he did a great job defending his research and work that he completed as part of his PhD. Congratulations – Linh Duong!

Linh has worked hard over several years on his project, entitled: A Multi-criteria Continuous Review Inventory Management System for Perishable & Substitutable Products.

This research is particularly interesting for those folk that manage perishable goods, whether these goods are foodstuffs or pharmaceuticals. A key element of the work was the inclusion of substitutability — a really important concept in contemporary business practice, where consumers are happy or willing to buy a substitute product if their preferred product is not in stock. The practical impact, from the perspective of those managing replenishment, is that ‘normal’ consumption of a product can be boosted if there is additional consumption driven by the substitution effect.

We had an enjoyable examination process. As usual, the Postgraduate Centre staff did a fantastic job setting everything up and ensuring that the process was seamless. The convenor walked us through the process earlier and did a great job during the examination itself. The oral examiners asked a range of interesting questions on a range of factors and issues in the thesis. Linh did a great job of addressing the questions and adding additional insight into the examiners’ understanding of the research.

Thank you, Linh, it was great working with you on the project and I’m sad to see this come to a close. Thanks also to Associate Professor William YC Wang, Linh’s other supervisor, who provided valuable support and assistance during the project.

Last week, another of our AUT PhD students also had a successful oral examination – congratulations to Freddie Mbuba! Congratulations also to his supervisors, Associate Professor William YC Wang and Dr Karin Olesen.

A great Transportation and Logistics Conference in Hsinchu


Linh N K DUONG presenting at the 6th Transportation and Logistics Conference in Hsinchu

Linh N K DUONG presenting at the 6th Transportation and Logistics Conference in Hsinchu

We have just finished the 6th Transportation and Logistics Conference, held at National Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu. This was a great chance to catch up with Dr. Kuancheng HUANG, one of my friends, as he helped organise and host this great event. We had a range of presentations during the conference on a variety of transportation and logistics issues, including tracks on:

  • logistics policy
  • city logistics
  • data and information
  • container shipping
  • terminal and warehouse operation
  • cross-border and river transport
  • green logistics
  • intermodal and cross-border transport modelling
  • maritime logistics
  • aviation logistics
  • economics, industries, and supply chain

One of my students, Linh N K DUONG, did a great job presenting some research we have completed on transport-on-demand logistics.

After two full days of great presentations on some fascinating research, complemented with panel discussions and an engaging keynote by Prof Michael Bell, we had the technical tours on the final day. There were three locations that we could visit. In the morning you picked between either the Taipei Port (learning more about the Port Facilities and FTZ Operations) or the SYNNEX Distribution Center. In the afternoon, both groups combined at the Taoyuan International Airport where we learned more about the Air Cargo Facilities and the new T3 Project and associated planning. This technical tour opportunity capped off an excellent conference.

I’m looking forward to the next conference in 2018!

Exam week

End of the biggest week for exams that I’ve had in quite a while. Big congrats to my Operations Management students at AUT who worked through their 3-hour, short-answer examination. My hope is that this challenged the cohort sufficiently

And it wasn’t just my students that engaged in their examinations – I was also sitting one on Sunday morning from 2-5am. I have to admit – this isn’t the greatest time of day for me to work. The exam was the Certified Demand Driven Planner programme (CDDP) administered by ICEA. Why the odd hours? It’s administered from the USA where I understand it was a more reasonable hour. An iProctor monitors a video feed for up to 5 candidates to ensure they are alone, not referring to books, etc. It was a multi-choice question exam. Now, I have my beef with this type of assessment but one outcome is pretty awesome: there is no wait to find out how you are did; an instant score is generated (in my case, slightly incorrect as one of my questions did not have an image in the question, making it impossible to answer!).

All up, a tough examination week for both myself and my students. I think we’re all breathing a sigh of relief.

Keeping up to speed with study

Exams are now around the corner (another busy semester, over!). Students are falling into the two camps: those that kept up with the readings and activities over the semester and those that are now cramming happily in an attempt to pass their final exams.

All materials are available at the start of the semester, complete with a list of chapters to read each week and the order in which materials will be covered. The smartest tactic, which minimizes overall work, is to read as you go, do exercises in important chapters, and sit tight for the exam. Students that are slower at reading can take speed-reading classes. A few hours improving reading techniques can pay significant dividends over the course of study.

Few exams have any extremely difficult materials in them that require significant further study or reading. In some cases, however, exams may require a student to extrapolate beyond the examples provided in the book, or the types of cases provided. If you really understand the concepts, this extrapolation isn’t difficult.

Simple strategy – keep up with readings. Continue to work through some problems. Don’t do all the problems in every chapter, but do a couple to make sure you understand key concepts. Most importantly – do not panic in the examination! Keep your cool, breathe in deeply, and try to chill a little. Use the reading time wisely and be ready to go when your examination period commences.

‘t was Tuition-free week …

All through the [campus] Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…

Not quite true – but campus is extremely quiet now we  have hit the tuition-free week. You notice it as soon as you reach campus. At 8:45am there was almost no-one around as I walked to the office; the few people I saw were clearly staff.

This is probably one of the most significant drawbacks to a suburb-based campus. City campuses have vibrancy and life still even during tuition-free periods. And, if nothing else, it’s a short walk to someplace where something is happening, close by in town.

What does tuition-free week mean to students today? Today, I noticed that there was food and drinks out downstairs for our doctoral students as they have their colloquium running. This is a fantastic idea as it keeps the university resources (rooms and facilities) well-utilised for a longer period throughout the year, while UG and PG students don’t otherwise need the space. The colloquiums are also an excellent opportunity for the PhD students to connect, form a network, and get valuable feedback on their research from other students (who can be the harshest critics) and staff that otherwise may not know what is going on.

But the UG and other coursework PG students during tuition-free week? I suspect that many of them take the opportunity offered by no classes to do a few more shifts at work. They could be working on their assignments, learning the material that will help them succeed in their classes, but they have other priorities. The sad thing is that the students that could benefit from a week of focus on their university study may even be those that are taking the opportunity to do more shifts!

Am I a hypocrite? I recall that at one period I was working three part-time jobs while studying for my BSc and BCom. At all times, however, I ensured that I had adequate focus on the university studies. And, when things became more difficult, I cut down on the work that I was doing, providing me with more opportunity to excel academically. Three years to complete a bachelor degree – it’s not a huge amount of time to forgo income while you seek to get your career off on the right foot. (Doctoral study, on the other hand, is vastly more expensive; my back-of-a-napkin calculations today put the cost of fees + reasonable living costs, at just under AU $200,000 for three years of study if you don’t include the opportunity costs of income you forgo. An expensive education!)

A quiet campus on tuition-free week? Not entirely – a quick trip through the library leads me to believe there are plenty of students still working darned hard and that’s good to see. I’ll have a new pile of assignments to mark in a couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to it – I’ve got some great students that I’m teaching.