Vehicle Industry Study Abroad Program goes to Eastern Europe

A group of 13 students from the School of Business Administration traveled to Poland and the Czech Republic, June 7-16, as part of the third year of the Vehicle Industry Study Abroad Program. The program is a collaborative effort of the school’s global supply chain management program. Undergraduate and graduate students from different majors and concentrations participated in the program.

“Business is a global practice. It’s a fact that we do business with people who speak different languages, are of different cultures and have different experiences than the American experience. It is important that we engage,” said Timothy Butler, associate professor of global supply chain management and teacher of the course. “Engaging makes our students more competitive than students at other universities that do not have those experiences.”

The program has taken trips to Quebec City and Montréal, Canada, in the past. On this year’s trip, the group visited European facilities of Lear, Delphi, Johnson Controls, GM, Opel, Armacell and Crusar. At Crusar, students were able to rally race against each other getting a modified feel of Formula One racing. The group also visited important historical and cultural sites in the area, such as Auschwitz concentration camp and Prague Castle.

At the International University of Logistics and Transport in Wroclaw, the students learned about the emerging economy of Poland and the country’s logistic and strategic advantages and challenges, including sustainability issues in the auto industry.

“Companies are moving into Poland because of low costs and high productivity, but Poland has to modernize very rapidly because the wages are slowly going up,” said John Taylor, chair of the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management.

Daniel Snyder, a senior majoring in global supply chain management, said he was surprised by how booming the automotive industry is in Eastern Europe.

“Delphi has this new technology, Myši, coming out where you can look at your car from your phone,” Snyder said.  “It’s like a security camera app.”

The department is trying to make the study abroad program a set part of the global supply chain student’s academic training as it offers a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience for the students, and also has the potential to benefit the companies in Europe.

“When you combine the open and confident attitude of American students with the knowledge provided from a university such as Wayne State, we obviously get some benefits to our business,” said Karol Kundzicz, co-owner of Crusar.

Christopher Mattingly, business school alumnus and supply chain management global convergence program manager at Chrysler, is helping plan a trip to Italy for next spring. The study abroad program is hoping to do two trips next spring.

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