Posts in Category: University

Littlefield Labs simulations in our operations management classes

Another fun week and we were running the Littlefield Labs simulation in two of our operations management classes. First, in the Postgraduate Diploma class on Supply Chain Management, with a focus just on management of capacity with a scenario focused on queuing and leadtimes. Second, I run a scenario with my Global Operations Management class (in the Business Masters programme), focused on capacity management and the use of appropriate contracts given operational performance. It’s a great group of talented students so I’ve given them a reasonably challenging situation to keep them busy in the session. We run the in-class session over a 120-minute team-based learning (TBL) session, giving us plenty of time to get into the simulation. All the best to the students – it should keep them busy and entertained over the session!

nDiVE – the start of an AWESOME project in supply chain education

Welcome to 2013 and the first day of a 24-month project to improve operations and supply chain management education – the nDiVE project ( and nDiVE is all about representing more data and information within a virtual environment to enable learners to better understand supply chain complexity, particularly where there is a separation of time and/or space between the cause-and-effect. This can be particularly pertinent in supply chain quality or health and safety. We are improving authenticity, allowing students to get a taste of real-working environments in a way that is entirely safe, and supporting their effective education. We have a range of colleagues from around the world working on this, experts in authentic learning, virtual environments, simulation, and business education.

This is going to be an awesome project and it should change the way that supply chain management education is approached, both within a tertiary environment and, we hope, later also within the corporate training environment.

Dynamic supply management

“Dynamic supply management, ensuring continuous fit with business objectives, offers a significant advantage to firms and builds a strong foundation for sustainable success.”

– Lincoln C. Wood
Quote fromMining Procurement and Supply 2012 conference, Perth, Australia (June 12-13 2012)


But that’s so much to write

Heard again. Twice today. (And it was the second or third time from one student!) J I’m sympathetic and I recall my own assignments and dissertations years ago. (Is there anything worse than staring at a blank screen and thinking to yourself “100,000 odd more words to go – time to start the PhD dissertation”???)

A few thousand words in an assignment can seem like quite a bit. A small dissertation or research project (equivalent in workload to one to four classes) can seem like a daunting task as you start. However, with a good structure and an effective plan, you soon find yourself wondering where you can cut things back or eliminate material.

Introducing structure and making things clear and easy for the reader often introduces significant ‘volume’ that is not anticipated. By the time you have dispensed with the niceties of academic writing it sometimes seems that there’s little space left for what you actually want to say. Thus, while it may seem like ‘a lot of work’ to put together a short conference paper, when you inspect a template, plan what you want to say and the order to say it in, filling in the blanks and coming up with a complete conference paper is quite easily accomplished. On a much larger scale, the same principles hold true for a dissertation, where there is even more ‘academic filler’ that helps the reader and conforms to the established orthodoxy of how the dissertation should be structured and written.

Writing a little bit each day also breaks a mammoth task into something quite achievable. Knocking out 500 words a day for 20 days gives you 10,000 words of content – quite a bit towards the completion of short dissertation. If you have a relatively detailed structure you can even fill in one of these segments each day with 500 words, and you’ll have a complete dissertation before you know it, assembled with a little writing each day.

What’s in a Master’s degree?

What’s in a Master’s degree? Is there something that makes this distinctly different to the Bachelor’s degree? Why do some universities have a two-year Master’s, while others have a shorter course?

Australia is examining the national structures for the Master’s courses and trying to standardize university offerings. Currently, at Curtin we have a three-semester Master of Logistics programme. MIT has a nine-month Master of Supply Chain Management (they also charge more than Curtin does!) At Curtin we also have a two-year Master of Commerce.

So at MIT I could do two Master degrees in the time that it takes me to do one at Curtin? Sound fair?

Some courses have a heavy research focus with an emphasis on preparing students for intensive research-based study in their doctoral programme. Others are ‘taught’ courses with much smaller projects, intended as advanced study following a Bachelor programme.

Will the national standardization prove useful? Possibly, but there is a huge amount of administrative work meanwhile while it is prepared. Some universities may not be able to offer ‘distinctive’ programmes and thus lose some competitiveness. It would, however, stop the ‘race to the bottom’ as institutions attempt to compete with increasingly shorter, faster, and more compressed offerings. Standardization may also prevent universities from experimenting with new models, reducing long-term innovation in the sector.