MBA Supply Chain Fellows Spend a ‘Day in the Dirt’ at Caterpillar Facility
Tuesday, Oct 11, 2011
October 5, 2011, wasn’t a typical Monday morning for five Jenkins MBA students at NC State’s Poole College of Management. Instead of heading to Nelson Hall for classes, five of the six students who received Supply Chain Fellowships through the Jenkins MBA program and the college’s Supply Chain Resource Cooperative traveled to the visitors’ center at Caterpillar’s Business Construction Products (BCP) Division site in Clayton, N.C.
Following an orientation that included safety guidelines and an overview of what makes Caterpillar’s business construction products different from its competitors, the students headed outside for a few rounds of ‘stick-time rodeo.’ The students took turns maneuvering a variety of construction machines through a few paces, including stacking tires, lifting globes from pedestals, digging in the dirt, and transporting a skid.
The field trip was arranged by Clyde Crider, co-director of Poole College’s Supply Chain Resource Cooperative, an academic-industry program that supports the undergraduate and graduate supply chain curriculum in the college. The SCRC program seeks to provide Poole College’s supply chain students with opportunities to learn how to solve real life problems while working directly with teams at Caterpillar and its other partner companies.
Following are comments from two of the ‘Day in the Dirt’ student participants.
Mike Westrich, first-year Jenkins MBA student and Caterpillar Fellow
Q: Which machines have you operated today?
All of them except for the one that’s lifting the balls. My favorite one so far is the backhoe. It was my favorite because it required the most skill and I could see the immediate reward afterwards. It was also (the) first machine that I got on.
Q: What was fun about operating the machinery?
The different skill levels involved in trying to put tires on top of one another. It was just fun digging dirt; moving dirt around is always fun … and driving around the little course. The hardest part is trying to pivot. It’s s a little bit different from driving a car.
Q: What’s the value of testing out these machines? How’s that going to help you with your area of interest?
I (got to) know the working pieces and working parts.
Q: What is your role in the Caterpillar internship?
I’ve been with Caterpillar for the past five weeks. I’m a sourcing analyst for them, so I’ve been trying to analyze and identify parts and suppliers.
Q: So you’re a first year MBA student. How much book learning do you have behind you?
Not much, most of it been on-the-job learning and training. My co-workers have helped me out a lot, coaching and teaching me. The most skills I’ve used so far are my Excel skills, which I learned in my stats classes. I’ve been using that as I was doing analysis with spreadsheets.
Q: So you’re learning pretty much learning on the job. Is that a good thing?
Yeah, it is. I’ve also had six years of military experience, which is basically on-the-job training, so that’s also helped a lot. It’s more valuable to have hands-on experience.
Q: Are you seeing a transfer from what you’re learning in the classroom to the work force?
I am, especially with my stats and accounting classes.
Jeff Lorenson, first-year MBA student and Caterpillar Fellow
Q: What’s your favorite machine that you’ve worked on so far today?
So far it’s the compact wheel loader. Between manipulating the forks and the articulation in the middle, it’s a brain tease.
Q: Hard to get used to the different machines?
Yes, more so than others though. Each machine is different, which makes it hard.
Q: How’s this going to help you with your area of interest?
Well, I’m actually a fellow with caterpillar so it will help me understand what our operators are using these things for and how they drive.
Q: What are you doing in your fellowship?
I’m with the Strategic Supply Chamber, so we do a lot of logistics and production processes.
Q: So it’s been useful?
Yeah, it helps you understand why all these parts are crucial to get in.
Getting ready to start her first run with one of the Caterpillar machines was Sarah Gilbert, SCRC Fellow, left. Among those mastering the ‘stack the tires’ exercise was Gorav Sangal, Caterpillar Fellow.