Since its launch in the fall of 2017, the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) has attracted a who’s who of industry leaders to its membership ranks. Companies such as UPS and FedEx, Schneider and J.B. Hunt, Echo Global Logistics and C.H. Robinson, and even SAP have joined, seeing the value that blockchain can bring to the supply chain. One of the latest organizations to join, announced today, is the University of Central Arkansas (UCA).
To gauge the value that UCA expects to garner from its membership, FreightWaves spoke with Dr. Douglas Voss, Associate Professor of Logistics and Supply Chain Management at the university, to understand the reason UCA felt the need to become a BiTA member.
“The whole blockchain phenomenon is so new, I think it’s so important for professors to stay on the cutting edge,” he explains. “We can take that message to students so they can stay on the cutting edge.”
Voss is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Arkansas Trucking Association, so he sees his role as a member of BiTA as providing some dual benefits for both entities, although the students of UCA that should derive great value from the membership.
Students in school now and those entering in the next few years will be leaving school to enter a logistics world that may be undergoing a change due to blockchain. Many experts predict blockchain will reach critical mass in the industry in the next 18 months to 5 years, meaning students who learn about the technology now will be among the first ready to implement it in real-world applications.
“I think in the short term what you’re going to get is some definition of how blockchain can be used, case studies [for example],” Voss says, adding that UCA’s involvement might also benefit BiTA members and the many trucking businesses based in Arkansas.
“Hopefully, we can bring an academic view to it,” he suggests. “Sometimes, we can view things from a 40,000-foot view so maybe we can bring a holistic view to it.
“There’s certain research reasons we’d want to join,” he adds. “Hopefully, we can learn and share information with BiTA members and maybe publish some of that and share it with everyone.”
The University of Central Arkansas launched a Logistics and Supply Chain Management major last year supported by a $3 million endowment from the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The school began its logistics program in 2007. Voss said the school will be creating a new major that is a cross between logistics and information technology.
“We find that there are some personality traits between students in logistics and information technology, so I think [blockchain] sits nicely there,” Voss observes.
And now students at the University of Central Arkansas will be able to tap into the knowledge base that is the growing member base of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance.
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