Students study Target’s supply chain


Photo: Madison Martin/Iowa State Daily

In February, a class will visit this Target store in Ames. Students in Supply Chain Management 428 will go backwards through Target’s supply chain.

Madison Martin

Students in the College of Business have been presented with an opportunity to follow through Target Corporation’s supply chain.

The tour will primarily take place over spring break.

Supply Chain Management 428 is a course offered that covers special topics. This semester, Supply Chain Management 428 is taught by Scott Grawe, an assistant professor in supply chain and information systems. Grawe used to work for Target as well managing domestic international logistics.

“I asked Target, ‘Can we design something where we take students backwards through the supply chain.’ Target is not doing a lot with it other than the fact that we’re looking at their supply chain, and they’re going to help give us access to the ports, to the suppliers, to the store, the distribution center,” Grawe said.

Students will visit a regular retail location in Ames and then a Target distribution center in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

“This class is basically only taught during spring break with the few days on either side of it,” Grawe said.

During spring break, students with travel to California to visit Port Long Beach and then fly to China.

“The students will get to see how the supply chain works from the supplier in China to the port, then to the distribution center, and then to the store,” Grawe said.

Target is also providing a learning opportunity by bringing forth two live cases to the students for them to solve.

“Towards end of February, a team from Target is going to come in and say, ‘Here’s what our supply chain looks like and talk a little bit about the company.’ Then, they are going to kick of what they call a ‘live case,’” Grawe said.

Grawe thinks the real life business situations will be a great experience for students.

“They are going to give us two business problems that they would normally assign to an analyst. Then, we have to solve these business problems,” Grawe said.

Leah Escher, senior in supply chain management, is one of the 27 students attending the trip.

“I’m really excited about it,” Escher said. “It’s definitely a great opportunity to network with a large corporation like Target and a great opportunity to see what we have learned in class and applied out in the industry.”

Once the students return, they will then convene and talk about their plans for the live cases. These live cases are the two business problems Target brought forth before the trip.

“We have about two weeks to gather our thoughts and get our presentations ready and go up to the headquarters in Minneapolis,” Escher said. “We will work in groups of three or four.”

In Minneapolis, students will present their findings and presentations to senior management.

If Target likes the presentation created by the Supply Chain Management 428 students, they will use their plans to solve the live cases.

“In terms of what’s in it for Target, it’s a great opportunity for us to get students in front of them. They can evaluate and see the type of strong students we have to offer. It basically serves as a recruiting opportunity for them as well,” Grawe said.