Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thank You to the Vienna University of Economics and Business

Last night I flew back to Gothenburg, Sweden from Vienna, Austria (through Munich). In Vienna, I had the distinct pleasure of teaching an intensive short course Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU). I also delivered a seminar in the Supply Chain Management Research Seminar Series.

WU is one of the largest universities in Europe.

The 25 students in my course were all in their final term  in the Supply Chain Master's degree program and represented Austria, Germany, Moldova, Bulgaria, Mexico, Turkey, and even the US (a student from Iowa)! They are also writing their dissertations.

I had prepared 9 lectures for the intensive short course and with all the discussions I did not have sufficient time to cover the final two topics but I have posted the lectures, including the syllabus online on the supernetworks center website:

I learned so much from the students -- the role of the Red Cross in Austria, for example, which is responsible for all the ambulances;  how males in Austria have to complete either 6 months of military service or 9 months of civil service -- with quite a few serving for the Red Cross. Females do not do military service but may elect to do civil (community) service and there were students in my course that were ambulance drivers as well as Red Cross volunteers who had helped communities during major snowfalls in Austria  by shoveling, along with the fire brigades, snow off of citizens' rooftops.

The student from Mexico had worked in rail operations when a major disaster struck there and she told me about the challenges in rerouting freight. A student from Bulgaria who lives near a nuclear power plant and her father works there told us about the emergency preparedness drills there and the alert systems.

It was also fascinating to hear about the kinds of warning systems that exist in their communities and countries (some have real shortfalls in this dimension and some are very advanced and sophisticated).

The students in the course are now working on their team project papers -- 5 teams of 5 students each with their papers due in 2 weeks.

Yesterday, the students gave short presentation to overview their projects, which were fascinating and so professionally well-done. I will be posting them on the class website once they all arrive.

We heard about the Fukushima triple disaster, with a focus on the nuclear disaster component, on the Gujarat Indian earthquake, the Indian tsunami, Hurricane Mitch, and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

I asked the students to focus on a humanitarian organization and what it did do well in terms of disaster relief and what, perhaps, it did not and the lessons that were learned.

We covered all phases of disaster relief with vivid case studies as well as performance metrics and even some mathematical models and disaster communications. We covered the differences between commercial and humanitarian supply chains and what possible synergies between the two exist.

I commend the Vienna University of Economics and Business on its great programs in terms of both education and research!

And it was wonderful to see how my former doctoral student, Dr. Tina Wakolbinger, who is now a Full Professor at WU, is flourishing there. She is the Director of the Research Institute for Supply Chain Management  and with her supervision of doctoral students, our academic genealogical "family" tree will be growing. 

The title of my seminar, which I gave this past Tuesday, was Perishable Product Supply Chains in Healthcare: Models, Analysis, and Computations. I  received fabulous questions and feedback and especially enjoyed hearing about the regulations surrounding the pharmaceutical industry in Europe (as opposed to the US). Given the news surrounding drug shortages, especially now in Greece, the seminar was quite timely. Several research directions that are promising will most likely be outgrowths from the discussions.

The seminar was based, primarily on our paper, A Supply Chain Generalized Network Oligopoly Model for Pharmaceuticals Under Brand Differentiation and Perishability, Amir H. Masoumi, Min Yu, and Anna Nagurney, Transportation Research E 48: (2012) pp 762-780 but I also related the model to our work on blood supply chains,Supply Chain Network Operations Management of a Blood Banking System with Cost and Risk Minimization, Anna Nagurney, Amir H. Masoumi, and Min Yu, Computational Management Science 9(2): (2012) pp 205-231,  and medical nuclear supply chains, Medical Nuclear Supply Chain Design: A Tractable Network Model and Computational Approach, Anna Nagurney and Ladimer S. Nagurney, International Journal of Production Economics 140(2): (2012) pp 865-874.

I thank my wonderful hosts: Professor Manfred Fischer, Professor Petra Staufer-Steinnocher, and, of course, Professor Tina Wakolbinger for the outstanding hospitality extended to me!

We even ate some classic Viennese cuisine and I returned with so many delicious Austrian chocolates, some of which I will be sharing with my Swedish colleagues this afternoon when we celebrate paper acceptances in journals!

Danke schon!