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Partnering with Industry for Providing Experiential Learning in an Undergraduate Class in Industrial Distribution

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Teaching and Assessment Methodologies

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.970.1 - 24.970.9



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Paper Authors


Bimal P. Nepal Texas A&M University

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Dr. Bimal Nepal is an assistant professor in the Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M University. His research interests include integration of supply chain management with new product development decisions, distributor service portfolio optimization, pricing optimization, supply chain risk analysis, lean and six sigma, and large scale optimization. He has authored 30 refereed articles in leading supply chain and operations management journals, and 35 peer reviewed conference proceedings articles in these areas. He has B.S. in ME, and both M.S. and Ph.D. in IE. He is a member of ASEE, INFORMS, and a senior member of IIE.

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Barry Lawrence Texas A&M University

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Dr. Barry Lawrence is the Program Coordinator of Texas A&M University's Industrial Distribution Program and the Director of the Thomas and Joan Read Center for Distribution Research and Education. He is a co-founder of the the Read Center's Global Supply Chain Laboratory which conducts industry driven research with firms worldwide.

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Esther Rodriguez-Silva PhD Texas A&M University

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Dr. Esther Rodriguez Silva collaborates in the Industrial Distribution Program at the Global Supply Chain Laboratory at Texas A&M University, where she conducts applied research and industry projects in the area of global distribution, best practices in distribution profitability, distributor value added services, and within industry Consortia. Dr. Rodriguez Silva is the Director of the Talent Incubator Program where she educates and train students for project development and execution. Also, she coordinates the Global Distribution Study Abroad Program designated to teach students on how to conduct business in the international arena.

Dr. Rodriguez Silva has contributed with recognized international institutions on supply chain management and participated on the implementation of strategic initiatives related to global trade, logistic processes and supply chain integration for the Inter-American Development Bank and the Department of Transportation, to mention some. Among Dr. Rodriguez Silva’s professional accomplishments are the reactivation of the container terminal at the Port of Lazaro Cardenas that attracted multi-million investments and her contribution to the Maritime Transportation Security Act at U.S. Congress. Dr. Rodriguez Silva is member of PMI, JLSE, IAME, JIN, NASBITE and has publications in Journals on topics related to transportation, distributor competitivenes and global supply chain.

Research Areas of Interest:
•Distribution Best Practices
•Distribution Profitability
•Growth and Market Share
•Sales and Marketing Optimization
•Supply Chain Management
•Global Distribution
•Strategic Planning
•Project Management

Recent Significant Research and Teaching Activities:
•Talent Incubator Program: Educate and train students for industry project development and execution. Provide talent pipeline for companies' internships and full-time.
•Global Study Abroad Program: Business Plan and Project Development for GSA. 2011-2014.
•Teaching: Optimizing Distributor Profitability, Pricing, International Sales and Marketing, Global Engineering, Distributor Competitiveness, Distributor Processes, Customer Stratification.
•Research: Optimizing Distributor Value Added Services, Optimizing Human Capital Consortia.

•Ph.D. in Maritime Sciences and Technology, Kobe Maritime University, Japan, 2005
•M.S. in Transportation and Information Systems Engineering, Kobe University, Japan, 2000
•B.A. in International Affairs, University of Las Americas, (UDLA), 1995

Dr. Esther Rodriguez Silva, PhD, CGBP
TEES Assistant Research Professor
Talent Incubator Director
Project Manager, Global Supply Chain Lab
Texas A&M University
Phone: 979 845 4984
Direct: 979 845 3146
Mobile: 210 454 6618

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Partnering with Industry for Providing Experiential Learning in an  Undergraduate Class in Industrial Distribution  Experiential  learning  has  been  a  key  focus  of  research  in  the  recent  adult  learning  literature. Unlike in traditional learning method, in experiential learning students are involved in hands on real  world  problem  solving  environment.  Thus  student  learning  takes  place  based  on  the experience of the project they work on. Capstone or senior design projects are great examples of  experiential  learning  environment.    While  it  is  very  common  to  have  such  a  course  in  all traditional  engineering  and  engineering  technology  programs,  it  is  not  so  common  in  other disciplines like industrial distribution (ID) even if they are housed in a traditional engineering/ engineering technology department. A part of the problem is that many people (both students and instructors alike) perceive ID as “Technical Sales only” major. However, the ID curriculum is comprised  of  several  courses  in  logistics,  supply  chain  management,  and  quality.  Likewise, many ID graduates pursue career paths in operations and supply chain management. This paper presents a case of a senior level course in Industrial Distribution program at a major university in the southwestern US. The course consists of an industry project, which is actually funded  by  a  building  materials  distributor.  As  a  part  of  class  requirement,  students  have  to complete  the  project  during  the  semester  and  present  the  recommendation  to  the  sponsor company towards the end of the semester. In the paper, we discuss the project scope and its findings in detail along with the student learning experience, industry‐academia collaboration, class  activities  management  (balancing  theory  versus  practice),  lessons  learned,  and  several instructional insights with respect to teaching and project management. We believe that these instructional insights are very “portable” to other learning settings thereby helping instructors and students with their teaching and learning process.  

Nepal, B. P., & Lawrence, B., & Rodriguez-Silva, E. (2014, June), Partnering with Industry for Providing Experiential Learning in an Undergraduate Class in Industrial Distribution Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22903

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