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Logistics students give presentations for educators

MCVTS logistics students give presentations at showcase for educators

Students in the new global logistics and supply chain management program demonstrated what they have learned at a showcase for New Jersey school districts on the Piscataway Campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools.

The new career major, begun in September on the Piscataway Campus, is being promoted by the state Department of Education, which sponsored the showcase. Fifteen secondary school administrators and faculty members from around the state attended.

Thomas Bacola of the Department of Education’s Office of Career Readiness emphasized that jobs in logistics and supply chain management are high-paying and in high demand.

“It’s really a good field and it’s important in New Jersey because one in 10 jobs is in this field,” he said.

Robert Araujo, the instructor for the MCVTS program, said his students are going through a series of projects that arise from the new curriculum, beginning with designing a warehouse and continuing with dealing with supply-chain disruptions and lately to issues with inventory management.

Two groups of students made presentations on supply-chain disruptions during the showcase. Araujo said they were encouraged to consider environmental and ethical concerns in arriving at their solutions.

Senior Melissa Martinez of Perth Amboy and sophomores Michele Rios of Perth Amboy and Aleana Otero of Carteret dealt with environmental and child-labor issues in gold mining in Ghana. They suggested substituting corn starch for cyanide in ore extraction to improve worker safety and environmental side effects.

Senior Jonathan Rivera and sophomore Darleen Tarong, both of Carteret, presented on a more exotic problem: production of coffee that passes through the digestive tract of civet cats and is harvested from their feces. The coffee sells for upwards of $100 per pound. The issue was how to keep the cats healthy when all they eat are coffee berries and are confined in small enclosures.

The students later answered questions from the attendees on their experiences in the new major.

“These students have only been here for three months,” Araujo said. “Over the rest of the year and next year, they will get more done and increase their academic rigor.”

Zachary Riffell of the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta, which is advising the Department of Education, said the logistics curriculum emphasizes academic and technical knowledge, as well as teamwork, in seeking solutions to real-world challenges outlined in six projects.

“There is no single correct solution,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a change from a traditional high school class.”

Both Riffell and Bacola said the Department of Education will support both comprehensive and vocational school districts interested in launching the field of study with both curriculum and teacher training.

Sean McDonald, MCVTS director of career and technical education, said that after a four-year course of study in the logistics major, students have a number of paths to success: They can go on to a four-year college, pursue a two-year associate’s degree or go directly into the workforce. Many employers will pay for workers to get their college degrees, he said. He said the district hopes to expand the career major.

“We’ve come a long way so far, and pretty quickly,” he said. “But there’s so much more out there.”