STEM Café: Supply Chain Puzzle – How Will Holiday Gifts Get to Your Door?

As the holidays approach, what factors affect how quickly or slowly a product can make its way to your local store or front door?

Let’s say you’d like to buy your loved one a box of chocolates. The cocoa may be grown in West Africa, South America or Asia. The sugar most likely comes from Brazil, the almonds from California and the vanilla from Madagascar. The aluminum wrappers are likely imported from the West Indies or Australia. Of course, once these raw ingredients are assembled, the chocolates have to be manufactured, packaged and shipped. And if seasonal packaging is involved, retailers must be careful to stock just enough, but not too much of these perishable and limited-time products.

Join Dr. Christine Nguyen, NIU Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, for a closer look at the supply chain. Learn how, in our global economic system, components of a single product can come from thousands of miles apart. A drought, snowstorm or factory closure halfway around the world can affect what’s available at your local store – and all of these uncertainties are compounded by the current pandemic.

Dr. Nguyen researches optimization, operations, warehousing, supply chain, logistics and data analytics. She focuses on developing algorithms and methods to find the most cost-effective ways to ship products through the supply chain, particularly time-sensitive items and perishable products. She’ll discuss how COVID-19 has affected – and will continue to affect – the supply chain in a variety of industries and product groups, and she’ll help us gain a better understanding of the complex processes that influence the products we purchase.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020 at 6:00 PM

Virtual Event
Event Type

Lectures, Presentations and Workshops, Community Events

Target Audience

Students, Faculty and Staff, Alumni, General Public



Free. Registration required.

Center for P-20 Engagement, College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, NIU Outreach, Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development, STEM Outreach


Contact Name

Judith Dymond

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