IAP Thoughts

James O’Connell

13..James Peter O'Connella


While normally a trip to Boston is uneventful, I managed to run into a little bit of a snag due to weather. I was visiting my sister in Florida and flying up from there when the Polar Vortex hit the Mid-West and East Coast of the US. This causes flights to be cancelled all over the country. My flight wasn’t cancelled but ended up being delayed for 10 hours. However, I made it to Boston safely and in time for IAP to start.


The hotel rooms were quite nice. There was a nice small kitchen for our use and the pull-out couch was comfortable. The hotel offered free dinners three times a week and free breakfast every morning. It was located pretty close to MIT, which made walking there in the winter weather a lot easier than I expected. Overall, it was a nice place to stay for three weeks.


The team exercises were very interesting. The first one involved manually slotting a set of items for a warehouse, which was then compared with a system doing the same process. My team actually managed to be in the Top Five for best score in it (which got us each a pen from the company). My favorite team exercise was the APICs Case Competition. Working closely with three other people with very different backgrounds to come up with our solution and then presenting it was a great experience. While we did not make the final round, my teammates did a great job presenting and we were very happy with how we performed. Overall, while some of the programs we used could use some work, the team exercises were a great experience, mainly for the chance to work closely with the students from the other programs.


We had lectures from both industry speakers as well as MIT professors. The industry speakers were all interviewed by one of the SCALE faculty and the discussions ranged from reverse logistics to use of drones to managing KPIs to advice for working in the field. Each speaker brought their own experiences and thoughts to the table and it was interesting hearing their stories and how they thought supply chain was going to change in the future. After speaking to the entire class, the guest speakers were interviewed by a small group of students, which I thought was a nice touch, allowing for a more intimate discussion. The MIT professors gave more formal presentations. My favorites were presentations on the effects of aging on the population and what it means for us as supply chain professionals, as well as the presentation on internet security. Both presented a different take on issues we do not spend as much time thinking about as we should and were very informative. Overall, the lectures were interesting and worthwhile.

Site Visits

We had our choice of site visits and I went to Quiet Logistics, AbInbev Brewery and New Balance shoe warehouse. Quiet Logistics is a 3PL who uses the KIVA robot system for that warehouse. It was incredible to watch, as these relatively small robots would carry the storage units to the workers for either item storage or picking for orders, queuing up so that the staff was not having to wait for the items to get to them. The system they use to avoid running into each other worked marvelously while we were there and it provided a much greater throughput over a traditional picking system. The brewery was interesting since we got a tour of the production side of things and then a discussion on the supply chain issues they had in the past with a new product launch. It was also neat to be able to see some of the Budweiser Clydesdales on site. New Balance uses a conveyer system for moving the shoes for order fulfillment and packaging. Since it was a Friday afternoon, they didn’t have a ton of orders to go out, but they were nice and left some for us to see how the system worked. It was my first time in what is closer to a traditional warehouse and it was very interesting to see how things flowed. Overall, all three sites were interesting and I would recommend attending each of them.

Overall Impressions

Overall, I think IAP was a great experience. The best part of it was being able to interact with the people in the other programs, getting to know them and making new friends and professional connections. While the weather was a little rough at times, it was more than outweighed by the interesting talks, the site visits and the great people you get to meet. I highly recommend going to it if you ever get the chance.

James O’Connell
Class of 2014
MSCM Program