The Business of Logistics

ATU-Ozark Logistics Stock Image

In the fall of 2015, ATU-Ozark rolled out a new two-year degree program, the Associate of Applied Science in Logistics Management, to help fill a growing need in the Arkansas River Valley. After speaking with some of the region’s industry staples such as ArcBest and USA Truck, ATU-Ozark embarked on designing a two-year option to begin filling the pipeline of jobs in this area.

Dr. Michael Murders, chief academic officer, along with Justin Smith, chief business and community outreach officer for ATU-Ozark, worked with local employers like ArcBest and USA Truck to give input on curriculum that would fit the entry-level needs in logistics management. “We received great feedback and support from the companies we reached out to, and most importantly they are willing to hire someone with a two-year degree in this field,” said Smith.

“Whether you work full-time, need to stay home to be a caretaker, or prefer the flexibility of completing course work any time of the day, this degree can fit into even the most hectic schedule.”

Along with trucking and other transportation-related companies, almost every other sector needs someone trained in logistics management for order fulfillment, warehousing, or inventory management. “When people think of a logistics degree, they tend to think of only trucking companies, but our local manufacturing base also needs people to manage their supply chains and keep up with trends in logistics and new terms such as blockchain technology,” said Smith.

Currently, the program is all online, which allows easier access for working adults while also providing flexible options for those just out of high school. The program has also received numerous industries across the River Valley wanting to be part of the program’s advisory board. ATU-Ozark is also looking at how to expand the program to fit industry needs even further and is looking to offer a brokerage class option for the program. “Many transportation companies are moving towards a more non-asset based approach, where they hire employees to be brokers which obtain freight from shippers and then hire other companies to move it across the country, rather than having their own in-house trucks and trailers,” Smith reported.

Those companies that do have their own equipment also rely heavily on their employees to have brokerage knowledge. The skill sets needed in logistics management also vary widely,  from customer service and sales to knowing how to manage a computer and spreadsheets. Basic logistics terminology is also important for new hires to pick up quickly and is something the new program teaches students.

A forklift moves crates across a warehouse floor
A woman's hands operate a handheld device with a keypad and screen
Crates and boxes are seen stacked on shelves in a warehouse

Overall, the program would not have worked without the guidance from companies like ArcBest and USA Truck. Companies like these provide tremendous growth opportunity, and someone entering an entry-level job at one of these industries can have a head start by going through a program in logistics management.

Fall 2017 was the first official semester of the program; The program’s enrollment doubled from Fall 2017 to Spring 2018.

The students who began the new program will graduate in May 2019. “ Whether you work full-time, need to stay home to be a caretaker, or prefer the flexibility of completing course work any time of the day, this degree can fit into even the most hectic schedule,” stated Heather Nelson, Logistics Management Program Chair. “This flexibility makes it easy to take classes, continue working and stay rooted in your community. Our goal is to continue building industry partnerships to ensure our courses maintain existing quality, relevance and industry standards,” Nelson said. “Graduates of the program will be prepared to enter the workforce directly or continue their education.”