Faculty members from the College of Business at New Mexico State University launched the Center for Supply Chain Entrepreneurship with a mission to create an ecosystem that connects students and faculty to businesses and drives supply chain-focused entrepreneurial activity in New Mexico.
“The idea behind the center is to create a connection between the students, the business community and the faculty,” said Barry Brewer, director of the center and an associate professor who teaches in the Department of Management at NMSU. “Our primary goal is to work with businesses to grow the supply chain capabilities in New Mexico and the surrounding region.”
Brewer said the center functions as a marketplace for stakeholders and a clearinghouse for business-related problems and solutions. It allows students and faculty to engage with companies to develop innovative solutions for critical supply chain problems. With experienced faculty members, including Minjoon Jun, Carlo Monge Mora, Faruk Arslan and others, the center is well-positioned with subject matter experts in supply chain and data analytics, Brewer added.
“Marketplaces create a social good by efficiently providing solutions for problems,” he said. “As academics, we often push solutions instead of discovering problems. This can result in being out of touch with what is needed now, not preparing students for today’s dynamic environments, and providing solutions that are inappropriate or incomplete. The center will work to bridge that gap by addressing the needs of stakeholders.”
Over the past year, Brewer and other faculty members with expertise in supply chain management and information systems worked to forge new relationships and explore engagement opportunities with various companies and professional organizations, including the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association and Bimbo Bakeries USA.
During the center’s second year, Brewer expects existing relationships with companies to evolve into partnerships that will lead to forums, executive education and other engagement activities. He also plans to hire administrative support. By its third year, the center will host end-of-semester expos, semiannual board meetings, career fairs and educational events, Brewer said.
Faculty members in the center are also working with academic advisers at NMSU to recruit new students to the Project and Supply Chain Management program offered by the Department of Management.
One of the center’s primary objectives is to create company case studies, which will allow companies to work with faculty members to document solved and unsolved business problems and give students the opportunity to engage in discussions with company representatives.
“These company-moderated cases create a great environment for the students to learn and companies to think critically about their processes,” he said.
Brewer said students began working with companies over the spring 2021 semester.
“We’ve got students working on some startups, helping them with their websites and their marketing. What we’d love to do is eventually get to the point where we have opportunities for the students to work on a company project during the semester and get paid for it,” he said.
The center benefits all stakeholders, Brewer said. It exposes students to real-world workforces and business challenges that provide growth opportunities. For companies, it serves as a hub for creative business solutions and a talent pool of potential employees. And it gives faculty access to quality business problems, data for research and funding for student events.
“Engaging business and community organizations benefits our students,” Brewer said. “These benefits will improve student capability and will be especially valuable to enhance their social mobility.”