This September 11-13, the Georgia Tech Health & Humanitarian Logistics (HHL) Center brought together leaders from NGOs, the private sector and government, hailing from Africa, India, Morocco and the United States, to examine the role of systems engineering in the third course in the professional certificate series: “Systems Operations in Health and Humanitarian Response.” The program draws on the experience of participants in logistics and supply-chain topics ranging from the forecasting and pre-planning stages to performance measurement and accountability for disasters and ongoing health and humanitarian crises.
In the three-day Systems Operations course, participants discussed mathematical modeling for cost-benefit optimization, coordination and collaboration among different organizations, game theory and its applications to relief efforts, warehousing, system dynamics for supply chain operations, and performance measurement. The learning began with pre-course reading assignments, activities, and modeling as part of the blended delivery format, and the in-class hours consisted of lectures, discussion, and interactive games and group work such as the “Beer Distribution Game” led by visiting professor Paulo Gonçalves from the University of Lugano’s Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian Logistics and Management (MASHLM). Courses were also led by HHL Center Co-Directors Dr. Julie Swann and Dr. Pinar Keskinocak as well as GA Tech faculty member and supply chain expert Dr. John Bartholdi.
Six of this year’s participants had previously completed the Pre-Planning Strategy and Tactical Decision Making courses in May 2013, and following the completion of the Systems Operations course on September 13th, they obtained professional certificates in Health & Humanitarian Logistics from GA Tech. Observations of the overall course experience were overwhelmingly positive, and the graduates were encouraged that the new knowledge, shared experiences, and contacts would aid them both in their personal and professional lives.
Among the graduates, Patrick Adinkrah of Ghana Health Services remarked of the final course: “very impressive delivery- I learned a lot for my professional life in public health logistics.” Eric Assi, a Logistics Assistant for the USAID/PEPFAR project in Ivory Coast and course graduate agreed: “It was enriching to learn from well-skilled instructors and also from people coming from different parts of the world and different institutions.” Various participants commented on the relevance of specific case studies and games, expressing the desire to learn from in-depth examples in the upcoming May 2014 courses. Activities such as the Beer Distribution game in particular gave students an opportunity to interact outside of their normal professional roles to examine logistics concepts from other angles.
In addition to excellent feedback from health professionals and NGO logisticians, Michael Symonanis, Regional Head of Execution for North America at Louis Dreyfus Commodities (a global commodities merchandiser with activities spanning the supply chain) reflected: “All instructors were extremely knowledgeable and presented course content in an easy-to-understand way… Although I am not in the HHL sector, I can apply the principles and concepts in my day-to-day work and within the organizations that report to me.” Like Symonanis, Saloua Lahlou of Citrix Systems also participated in the three courses to further her interest in applying systems and logistics knowledge to the health and humanitarian sectors to improve efficiency.
All three courses will be offered next spring in a 6-day format (Mon. May 12th to Sat. May 17th) in order to provide those traveling from afar the opportunity to earn the certificate without having to make multiple visits. Participants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to reserve a space for the upcoming courses, and a limited number of scholarships will be available fior those from NGOs and developing countries. The deadline for scholarship applications from those outside the United States is December 1, 2013 to allow sufficient time for visa requests and processing, and the official registration deadline is March 1, 2014 for all U.S. citizens. For more information about the scholarships, please visit: http://hhls.scl.gatech.edu.
Participants who successfully complete the requirements of all three courses receive a professional certificate from Georgia Tech in Health & Humanitarian Logistics. Courses in Pre-planning Strategy and Tactical Decision Making will cover preparation for long-term development and emergency response involving forecasting, distribution network design (methods and models), and strategies for managing uncertainty as well as methodologies for tactical decision making including procurement and inventory policies, strategies for distribution and allocation of limited resources, and transportation decisions. As mentioned above, the Systems Operations course topics include demand management and forecasting, procurement, inventory management, distribution, network design, strategies for allocating limited resources, collaboration and coordination, and measuring and evaluating system performance.
For more information about the courses, visit:
http://www.scl.gatech.edu/professional-education/HHL/ or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.