APICS addresses talent shortage through expanded supply chain STEM program

To combat shortage of supply chain talent, K-12 program teaches supply chain concepts with interactive games, provides resources for teachers and parents.
By · June 13, 2017

APICS, a professional association for supply chain management, has announced the launch of a new, expanded Supply Chain STEM Educational Outreach Program.

The program aims to introduce K-12 students to the concept of supply chain, demonstrate the importance of supply chain management, and highlight promising career paths within the industry. This latest investment will extend the reach of the program to more than 100,000 students by 2020, advancing APICS’s mission to combat the global shortage of supply chain talent.

“While volunteering with my daughter’s elementary school class, I saw firsthand the lack of supply chain awareness among today’s youth, and made it a personal mission to create hands-on and fun activities that teach STEM concepts and components of supply chain management,” said Cheryl Dalsin, APICS director of academic outreach and founder of the Supply Chain STEM Educational Outreach Program.

In 2011, Dalsin and a small team from Intel partnered with supply chain professionals from MIT, Michigan State University, and Arizona State University to develop and pilot interactive STEM activities for over 600 students in the Phoenix area. With continuous increase in demand and the help of volunteers, Dalsin and her partners grew the program internationally, reaching 15,000 students in five years. APICS recognized that Dalsin’s work aligned directly with its efforts to support and develop student talent, and brought her on board in 2016 to lead the initiative, forming the Supply Chain STEM Educational Outreach Program. 

“Sixty million baby boomers will leave the workforce by 2025, while only forty million millennials will enter it in their place,” said APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE. “Expanding the Supply Chain STEM Educational Outreach Program to reach more students than ever before is a critical step toward decreasing the skills gap, training a new wave of supply chain leaders, and strengthening the future of the profession.”

As the founding corporate supporter, Intel continues to play a role in the program’s success.

“Intel is proud to be a sponsor of the APICS Supply Chain STEM Educational Outreach Program,” said Tony Romero, vice president, general manager customer fulfillment, planning and logistics at Intel. “From elementary through high school, the program grows awareness of supply chain as a valuable STEM career via engaging students and teachers in a fun, hands-on way.”

Each activity in the program is designed to touch on key STEM concepts and demonstrate how they factor into a supply chain. As part of the program, APICS provides the tools and resources needed for volunteers or teachers to lead the activities in a variety of settings such as schools, social organizations, clubs, and community programs. Currently, the program offers several distinct activities that are tailored to different K-12 age groups:

The Lemonade Activity (K-5) introduces students to four key areas of supply chain – source, make, deliver, and reuse/recycle – through an interactive and fun lemonade stand game.
The Paper Airplane Activity (middle school) combines STEM and supply chain concepts such as prototype design and mass production with realistic industry manufacturing experiences by having students design, engineer and test paper airplanes.
The Cell Phone Game (high school) teaches supply and demand strategies, and explores the relationship between modes of transportation, cost, and lead time as students take on various supply chain roles within their team.
The LEGO Booth Activity (middle & high school) engages students one-on-one at science or career fairs as they design, test-drive, and assess the performance of a LEGO car.
The Lemonade Career Day Activity (K-2) results in a human lemonade supply chain, built by students in a fun, condensed interactive session.

The Supply Chain STEM Educational Outreach Program welcomes the support of individuals and corporations with various opportunities to volunteer and donate.

Additionally, program activities are free and available to anyone interested in using them. Teachers, parents, and volunteers can download toolkits on the program’s STEM activities page.