What are you working on?
I am the Chairman of the Ocean Systems Management Program. We focus primarily on marine transportation systems. However, that can only be done effectively if one looks at the overall logistics system, which includes everything that happens with a piece of cargo from the point of origin to the fi nal destination. Addressing all of these issues requires the application of skill sets ranging from engineering to management, economics, policy, and law. In a recent project, we were analyzing taking coal from the middle of the United States, putting it on barges, bringing it down the Mississippi, taking it off the barges, putting it on land-based terminals, and then reloading it onto ocean-going vessels to carry it across the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. The planning, coordination, and execution of this type of operation goes far beyond engineering and requires a comprehensive understanding and implementation of information technology.
Have there been any considerable changes or developments in the recent past that have
affected your work?
There are changes occurring constantly that affect our work. From a logistical point of view, we have three main tasks—moving the cargo, moving the information that is needed to move the cargo, and moving the money. Each of these areas is changing all the time, in different ways and at different rates. For example, the ships are getting much bigger and faster, but the ports are not evolving quickly enough to handle these ships. So, the ability to move cargo in and out of the ports is not keeping pace with the other links in the chain. Additionally, because there is now increased emphasis on security and environmental protection, we have to be more concerned with identifi cation tags for tracking and tracing, global positioning systems, and the enforcement of all the environmental regulations. It’s a constant challenge, but that’s what makes it so fascinating.
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