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The studies of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) have shaped the logistics industry into what it is today. Logistics, the discipline that manages the shipping and distribution of goods to consumers, has made momentous strides in recent years with help from new technology. For students, logistics is an interesting and challenging field to pursue. More companies are beginning to invest in logistics to optimize supply management and increase customer satisfaction. Here are the five ways STEM education has helped shape the future of logistics.

Emerging Technical Studies

Students studying the field of logistics work with innovation in mind, always striving to improve current logistics processes and eliminate product inefficiencies. Colleges offering a concentration in logistics provide real-world experience by delivering a hands-on approach to learning. Students are often required to complete labs along with coursework, which gives students the opportunity to use technology used by real logisticians. This includes supercomputers and 3D printing machines, which help solve current roadblocks in the logistics industry.

STEM Education Help Increase Accuracy

Logisticians focus on planning and implementing the most effective flow of goods, storage and services. Ineffective logistics procedures can cost businesses through high trading and longer supply chains. Big data analytics, drone delivery and algorithm-based forecasting has helped improve accuracy, and as a result, the industry has thrived. Thanks to STEM education, accuracy of the supply chain flow has improved.

Robotics & Automated Machinery

Robotics has played a significant role in improving logistics by improving processes and increasing speed and efficiency. Today, robots can be found in sorting centers, warehouses and plants, as well as in the form of mail carriers such as drones. Consumers are driving the demand for faster and more efficient product deliveries, which puts the pressure on the logistics industry to find innovative delivery methods. Students who earn a logistics degree get a jump start on this by becoming familiar with the existing robotics and automated machinery in the workforce, and exploring new ways to use this technology.

Tracking Technology

STEM is the backbone of the logistics industry for supply chain managers. Barcodes, GPS and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are all common in the modern logistics world. These technologies, which are a byproduct of STEM studies, are critical in controlling and eliminating recalls, returns, recycling and waste management. Tracking technology has been exceptionally important for e-commerce businesses, such as Amazon and Google, which highlight fast and accurate delivery of goods and services as part of their brand.

Cross-Disciplinary Curriculum

Logisticians are typically responsible for a variety of functions for businesses, such as preparing budgets, managing inventory and tracking goods in the supply chain. The study of logistics requires a cross-disciplinary curriculum, meaning students must learn a variety of both STEM and non-STEM subjects. These non-STEM subjects include managerial courses such as supply management communications and purchasing materials management. Those who pursue a logistics degree learn how to manage effectively, conduct inventory control and purchase the right amount of materials. A thorough STEM education prepares students to work in senior level positions, such as chief logistics officer, and take charge of the changing industry landscape.

STEM continues to be a leader in job growth, including in the logistics industry. With over 1.1 million jobs added to the industry in recent years, there’s no doubt the outlook for a logistics career is promising.

[Infographic] Bridging the STEM Attraction Gap

The poor access students have to engaging and relevant courses in science, technology, engineering and math in the U.S. is directly affecting their interest in STEM careers. Hands-on learning helps spark interest and bridges the STEM attraction gap.

STEM Education