FIU Business supply chain students tour PortMiami, gain perspective on global trade.

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Classroom lessons about global trade and international logistics can come to life in an active port, through the stories of the people who run it and the workings of the cranes, containers and ships that make it happen.

To bring this real-life perspective to their studies, Dr. Ron Mesia, director of the College of Business’ Ryder Center for Supply Chain Management and Supply Chain Management professor, brought 17 students at Florida International University’s (FIU) College of Business to PortMiami, the vibrant international port in their own backyard.

There, with the help of port personnel, Mesia guided them through lessons on international trade, the port’s assets and challenges, and the constantly shifting landscape of how goods are moved across lands and through oceans. The trip was part of the college’s new Logistics and Supply Chain Management major and minor, introduced in the Spring 2015 semester, as well as its ongoing Logistics & Trade certificate program.

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“Our supply chain classes prepare students for international Supply Chain leadership positions,” Mesia said. “With this degree, you will be able to work anywhere in the world.” Mesia brings decades of experience as an international trade executive to his role in the classroom. A former Supply Chain executive, he joined the FIU faculty in 2011.

Many of the 17 students on the April 9, 2015 trip had visited other international ports with Mesia, including Barcelona, Shanghai, and Dubai, through FIU study abroad trips, giving them a basis for comparison. Seeing PortMiami, and understanding its assets and challenges, helped them connect the dots between global trade and the role it plays in the South Florida economy.

PortMiami’s cranes can lift over 30 containers in an hour. It’s an impressive piece of South Florida’s economic infrastructure and an essential link between Asian ports and businesses and consumers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. In fact, PortMiami was ranked #2 in the U.S. for port productivity by industry leaders as a result of averaging an impressive 75 container moves per hour between ship arrival and departure.

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Students appreciated the ability to see a snapshot of the economy of the region, gaining an understanding of consumer appetites by watching what goods move through the port. They also learned how the expansion of the Panama Canal would shift shipping priorities for other U.S ports such as Long Beach, Houston, and Savannah.

Ultimately, they appreciated how an experience such as this would help give them an edge in their careers, with future entrepreneurs, marketers, and international business majors in the group all seeing the connections.

“The trip helped me understand how unique and important PortMiami is, how we help connect the world to Latin America, and the importance of having this program at FIU,” said Camila Lomanto, a business student who plans to graduate with both Marketing and Logistics and Supply Chain Management majors this summer. She has already received an offer to do marketing research in technology, and she plans to integrate her supply chain management knowledge acquired in the classroom into her career.

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