For a quarter of a century, Georgia Tech has fostered global alliances in an effort to enhance student learning, build research collaborations, and promote economic development. Our strategic plan envisions the Institute becoming an international hub for education, research, and innovation, and we took significant steps toward fulfilling that goal this year.
Last fall Georgia Tech and Tecnológico de Monterrey launched the Trade & Logistics Innovation Center in Mexico City. The center, a partnership between the two institutions, is focusing on improving Mexico’s logistics performance and increasing trade competitiveness.
“In order for us to continue our global positioning, we have to understand the supply chain from an international perspective,” said Jaymie Forrest, managing director of the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistics Institute. “It is essential that there be in-depth knowledge of major trading partners such as Mexico for Georgia Tech to be the leader in international trade.” The center is focused on education, research, and industry growth.
“We’re providing education and research to make sure Mexico has the capacity to do it on its own,” said Miguel Martinez, executive director of the center. “The fact that an institution like Georgia Tech is involved will help us get there faster with proven methodologies and success in other countries.”
The center will offer professional and executive education on logistics and trade, the same extensive curriculum offered by the Supply Chain & Logistics Institute. That includes comprehensive programs in lean supply chain, transportation, warehousing, inventory, trade, and supply chain strategy.
For its research agenda, the center will work on projects with the Mexican government in areas such as disaster management and humanitarian logistics and improvement of the food and beverage supply chains. The center’s research areas will also include warehouse distribution and logistics, logistics and manufacturing, supply chain for emerging economies, and information technologies for supply chain management.
Georgia Tech is a partner in the Trade & Logistics Innovation Center in Mexico City.
Encouraging entrepreneurial activity in Chile is the current focus of Tubing Operations for Humanitarian Logistics (TOHL), a team of students and alumni who relocated to the South American nation for six months as part of a program initiated by the Chilean government.
In a post-disaster environment, getting potable water to areas cut off by destroyed roads and infrastructure can be both time consuming and ultimately fatal for many. The TOHL team—which includes recent Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts graduates Travis Horsley and Melissa McCoy—has developed a system to address those logistical issues in the wake of disaster, and earned $40,000 from Startup Chile to further develop its idea.
TOHL makes use of coil tubing typically used in oil fields and employs a helicopter to drop and arrange tubing from above, creating a way for water to reach remote places following a disaster. The tubing, measuring about an inch in diameter, stays above ground and the process can result in getting water to a community within 48 hours. It’s durable enough to be used for up to 100 years with oil, though this application shortens its life span. Using a helicopter to unspool the tubing removes the obstacle of roads or paths that may be blocked, washed out, or destroyed.
“Chile is the perfect place for us [to test TOHL],” said McCoy. The country’s recent earthquakes and forest fires provide the team with an opportunity to test its system in a place that has experienced the disasters that TOHL aims to address.
“Right now we want to show that it works, and from that try to partner with [non-governmental organizations] and have the pipe get water to a community that needs it,” McCoy said.
The TOHL team will convene with more than 200 other entrepreneurs from around the globe as part of the project.
In addition to economic development, humanitarian outreach is a key aspect of Georgia Tech’s global initiatives. Researchers from the College of Computing, working in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have developed a digital data tracking system to assist low resource clinical laboratories in developing countries.
Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from some of the greatest health challenges in the world, making the need for efficient healthcare delivery especially vital. However, most hospitals and labs in the region use paper logs and manual entries for tracking data, methods that take up valuable time and are prone to errors and loss of data. In an effort to increase efficiency and allow more patients to be tested accurately, a team led by Professor Santosh Vempala in the School of Computer Science developed the Basic Laboratory Information System (BLIS).
During a six-month pilot implementation in three hospital labs in Cameroon, BLIS accounted for a 66 percent decrease in errors and a 50 percent reduction in employee workload. This led to significantly reduced waiting times, allowing twice as many patients to get tested daily as compared to pre-BLIS operations.
Built from freely available, open-source components, BLIS digitizes the traditional data tracking system, resulting in a sustainable program that tracks specimens, results, and workflow. Unlike similar software from commercial providers, BLIS is extremely cost-effective, works on limited resources, and requires virtually no training. Additionally, the system is designed to work effectively in countries with very little IT infrastructure and limited connectivity.
“Integrating data tracking software in these labs has been difficult in the past, mainly due to high costs and the failure of other system providers to incorporate the varying needs of labs and hospitals from different countries and cultures,” said Vempala. “We wanted to design an extremely configurable system that would adapt to fit the needs of its users in order to improve workflow and patient care.”
Another Georgia Tech innovation is helping resource-poor nations in the developing world improve distribution of breast milk and non-pharmaceutical interventions for malaria. This critical goal is being achieved through the work of Georgia Tech systems engineers, who are using computer models to help these nations improve supply chain decisions.