Students follow supply chain from Cedar Falls to China

Ever wonder what it takes for something as simple as a kitchen spatula to get from the factory where it was made to the store where you bought it? It is a question that Scott Grawe answered for his students by having them visit every point on Target's supply chain.

Grawe, an assistant professor of supply chain management and information systems at Iowa State's College of Business, organized a 10-day live case study for students over spring break. The trip started with a visit to a Target store and distribution center in Cedar Falls and ended with a tour of a factory in China that supplies many Target products. Students made stops in between at ports in Los Angeles and China to see where the large container ships hauling product are loaded and unloaded.

It's a rare opportunity, Grawe said, and one he believes will give his students a competitive advantage.

"Working professionals don't get a chance to see this, and now you've got students coming straight out of school who have had this exposure to the entire supply chain," Grawe said. 

Getting a chance to see the process firsthand also helped students better understand the concepts they are studying in the classroom. Learn more about the many study abroad opportunities offered through the College of Business.