Two students working on project on-site.

The power of connections. The power of partnerships

"It’s always amazing to see what the ISM students can create in a short period of time." -- Nickalas Randall, Senneca Holdings

Making connections—connections with alumni, industry partners and students. It’s how Dr. Sime Curkovic, professor of marketing, elevates the integrated supply management student experience and further cements the career readiness of the program’s graduates.

Sime Curkovic

Sime Curkovic

The result of all Curkovic's connections? Nearly 200 experiential projects since 2008 and counting. These pursuits benefit both the sponsoring businesses and students, who Curkovic always keeps at the forefront.

Each semester, senior ISM students in the projects course start by mastering process management concepts and techniques such as single-minute exchange of dies, value stream mapping and value engineering, to name just a few. They then apply these concepts and techniques to an on-site industry process, practicing their skills and solving challenges for the partnering business.

During the 2020-21 academic year, when companies were facing supply chain challenges and shortages as well as interrupted schedules, Curkovic’s long-standing partnership with John Ulrich, director of operations of Lacks Enterprises, paid off. Ulrich sponsored seven projects for the program, helping foster the experiential learning component of the ISM major, even during a pandemic.

“All the projects we have had WMU students participate in have been highly beneficial to Lacks,” says Ulrich. “WMU supply chain students have shown a proficiency for data analytics. They have proven capable of taking unfamiliar data, quickly deciphering what it means, and finding important patterns in that information.”

Additionally, Ulrich says the students offer new insights, benefitting his team as they address complex supply chain challenges and giving Lacks an opportunity to develop relationships with potential future employees. “Participating in these projects helps us keep our name in front of students for potential future recruiting activities.”

As Curkovic continues making connections among students and industry, he also focuses on exceptional projects. This fall, students will immerse themselves in projects at Senneca and Lane Automotive—both long-standing partners—illustrating the cyclical nature of the ISM program’s thriving community partnerships.

One of Curkovic’s connections, Nickalas Randall, B.S.E.'20, operations associate at Senneca, appreciates the impact students have on projects.

“Having a fresh perspective is always great,” says Randall. “At Senneca, we seek to bring overlooked problems to the surface. It’s always amazing to see what the ISM students can create in a short period of time.”

Visit the projects course webpage for information about participating in the course and to check out examples of completed projects.

Want to connect with Curkovic? His growing LinkedIn presence is a great place to start.