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Using a Paper-based Supply Chain Game to Introduce Blockchain Concepts

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Engineering Management Division 3: Teaching and Learning in Engineering Management

Tagged Division

Engineering Management

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Paper Authors


Scott Abney East Carolina University

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Scott Abney is currently an Assistant Professor at East Carolina University with a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering Technology from Purdue University. Scott has previously obtained a Master of Science in Industrial Technology from Purdue as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Eastern Kentucky University. Scott currently teaches the Introduction to Distribution and Logistics course at East Carolina University. His research interests are: supply chain management, sustainability, lean manufacturing, blockchain and ERP system integration in curriculum.

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Mark Angolia East Carolina University Orcid 16x16

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Mark G. Angolia is an Associate Professor of Industrial Distribution and Logistics in the College of Engineering and Technology at East Carolina University. Entering academia after 20 years in the automotive supply chain, his research interests include ERP systems, technology management applications for distribution and logistics, and higher education pedagogy. He holds a PhD in Technology Management from Indiana State University, a Master of Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, professional certifications of CPIM and CSCP from ASCM, and a PMP from PMI.

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Natalie Aman East Carolina University

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In today’s competitive marketplace, companies are continuously tapping into technological advances to gain a competitive advantage as well as increase efficiency throughout their supply chain. One area of innovative technology adaption has been in relation to blockchain, ie. use of distributed ledger technology. The market for jobs related to blockchain have grown over 200% between 2017 and 2018 and this is expected to continue to grow. It is predicted that by the year 2024, the blockchain market will be worth around $20 billion. Blockchain has shown early promise in such various areas of industry that include: healthcare, manufacturing, supply chain management, and finance. For example, blockchain has been proposed to be an addition to the new area of “Cloud Manufacturing,” and more so in smart manufacturing in the creation of traceable, irreversible audit trails on information that can vary from purchasing\transportation transactions to manufacturing process completions. Due to the possible advantages of using blockchain, both industry and academia are fast tracking on finding ways to adopt the technology However, at this time there is little research regarding effective ways of teaching blockchain concepts in higher education courses.

This paper outlines curriculum change into a supply chain related program, specifically an existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) class, by introducing blockchain concepts and frameworks. This is accomplished by modifying a manufacturing simulation, the “Paper Game” originally developed by the ERPsim Lab at HEC Montreal, that demonstrates business processes within an order-to-cash cycle for a manufacturing company at the center of a three-tier supply chain. During this game, students identified the transactions between each tier as a “block” in the chain and examined how transparency in a blockchain would align with manufacturing and supply chain processes. During times where information did not align, students were able to identify how the incorrect information would be recorded initially and then re-recorded later as a new “block” in the chain. Presented in this paper is an in-depth pedagogy on how to use the “Paper Game” to relate a general blockchain layout, ideas on how to show students transparency that exists in a blockchain ledger between companies, potential relationships between ERP systems and blockchain, student pre- and post-game survey results, and recommendations for future research.

Abney, S., & Angolia, M., & Aman, N. (2020, June), Using a Paper-based Supply Chain Game to Introduce Blockchain Concepts Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35446

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