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Effective Industry Support for Higher Education of Employees

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Practical Teaching in Manufacturing - 1

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.579.1 - 26.579.10



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Paper Authors


Craig Harris Red Ball Oxygen, Co., Inc.

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Operations Manager
Director, Quality Assurance
Former Operations Manager of Specialty Gas Lab

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Malini Natarajarathinam Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Malini Natarajarathinam is an Associate professor with Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution. She teaches classes on strategic relationships for industrial distribution, distribution information systems and new directions in Industrial Distribution. She is also the founding faculty and advisor for the Society of Women in Industrial Distribution (SWID). She works on many service learning projects with her students where they work with many local community agencies.

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Effective industry support for higher education of employeesStrategic educational investments that foster industry best practices directly and positively affectthe EBITDA of the small businesses. In this paper, we show how investment from a smallbusiness to support a Masters student helps in many tangible and intangible ways. The studentworks on a yearlong capstone project during the course of his study under the close supervisionof faculty. The specific capstone research project focuses on developing a web based mechanismto order and produce packaged gases in a closed loop supply chain to optimize cylinderplacement through a distribution network comprised of a packaging facility and nearly twentydistribution centers and retail store fronts that handle both outbound and inbound product. Theresearch creates an inventory stratification that considers multiple variables simultaneously,which produces guidance for a mathematical formulation in which the relative profitability of theproduct is considered in the inventory strategy and optimal placement throughout the company.This research is based on methods developed through an educational investment in key operatorsconcerned with asset utilization. Hence, the sponsoring organization can see that it’s bottom-linegetting improved with efforts from its own employees. The cost of the project alone will justifythe investment in higher education of the employee. In addition to this, the company is alsotraining and building project champions specialized in their area of operations. This could alsohelp with succession plans in the future. There are more intangible benefits from this employeeand also from his peers. The benefits of supporting higher education by a small business mightbe a big effort but we show in this article, that it is worth every bit. We also discuss what aresome measures that the company should do to benefit the most out of this investment.

Harris, C., & Natarajarathinam, M. (2015, June), Effective Industry Support for Higher Education of Employees Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23917

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