Fall 2018 Project and Supply Chain Newsletter

In This Issue: 


Message from the Department Chair

Dr. Ray Venkataraman

Welcome to the fall 2018 newsletter. I hope all of you are having a productive and a fun semester. Enrollment in the PSCM major continues to remain strong. Two new courses—Introduction to Supply Chain Analytics and Project Risk Management—will be offered to our students in the 2019-20 academic year. We also are delighted to welcome a new faculty member to our PSCM program, Dr. Richard Peng. Dr. Peng, assistant professor of PSCM, has significant expertise in quality control and project management areas, and has published articles in many leading journals in his field.

This newsletter has several features. Our alumni are working in a variety of positions across the United States and have highly successful careers. We are pleased to showcase two alumni, Ariana Yunik ’18 and Morgan Lyons ’18. This newsletter also spotlights two of our students, Michael Cross and Shreddhaa Vallabh. The PSCM Club Speaker Series continues to be very active. In the month of October, we had two speakers, Daniel Yunes of Logistics Plus and John Kill of Finish Thompson. This semester also featured a Corporate Day for Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc. (BPMI) in September. Finally, we thank the officers of the PSCM Club, Michael Cross, Donovan Owens, Madison Start, and Joseph Waslousky; faculty advisers Dr. Ozgun Caliskan Demirag, associate professor of operations and supply chain management, and Dr. Varun Gupta, assistant professor of operations and supply chain management; and Nicole Overby, the Black School of Business’ graduate assistant, for their dedication in publishing this newsletter.

Dr. Ray Venkataraman, Professor of Management and Chair of PSCM major 

Faculty Spotlight 

Dr. Richard Peng, Assistant Professor of Project and Supply Chain Management

Dr. Richard Peng

What is your educational background?

I finished my Ph.D. in Management Science with a minor in Logistics and Supply Chain Management from the University of North Texas in May 2016. I received my (Cohort) M.B.A. in Operations Management and Supply Chain Management from the University of Texas at Dallas in August 2013, and a bachelor’s degree in Information Engineering from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in China in June 2008. In addition, I hold a certification of Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE) from the American Society for Quality (ASQ), and a certification of Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

What is your favorite part about being a professor? What made you want to become a professor?

I believe that education is transformative. My favorite part of being a professor is shaping students’ personal transformation through excellent teaching and contributing to the body of knowledge through responsible research.

What do you like most about Behrend? What are you looking forward to?

I think Behrend utilized a unique way to set up its high-tech academic environment by putting business and engineering together. Knowledge Park also brings industry and academia together to advance business and technology. This unique environment has strong potential to generate innovation that is the engine of economic growth. I look forward to working with colleagues and industries to develop projects and engage students in out-of-classroom activities and industry-oriented projects.

How would you describe your teaching style or method?

I value the opportunity to make a long-lasting difference in another person’s life through excellent teaching. I have always been committed to offering students something of value, to understanding their needs, and to creating an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. I believe that students perform best when they feel valued in the learning environment and when they believe that they are capable contributors. It is my responsibility to help every student to develop confidence in their abilities, and to feel that the material that I am presenting is relevant and valuable to them. It is also my responsibility to ensure that students feel that they are being heard. My goals are to go above and beyond developing knowledge and encourage a multiple range of skills among my students. These include (1) encouraging students to go beyond route memorization of the textbook material, (2) to understand the boundaries of theories, (3) to facilitate critical thinking skills and strategies, (4) to acquire a motivation for life-long learning, (5) to acquire problem-solving skills and capabilities, and (6) to assist my students in developing as leaders who will continue to seek opportunity.

What is your favorite topic to research/work on?

I have continuously worked to address theoretically anchored problems using quantitative methods in operations management and supply chain management. My main research stream extends the current body of knowledge of quality management theory and sustainable supply chain management. Using multiple research methods in the conduct of research, such as mathematical modeling, structural equation modeling, meta-analysis, event study, and latent semantic analysis, has the advantage of providing cross validation within a single application.

Do you have any advice for current students majoring in PSCM?

In the era of big data, business environment is getting more disruptive. PSCM students should understand and appreciate the value of project and supply chain management in the disruptive business environment. PSCM students should equip themselves with critical thinking and analytical reasoning skill sets in order to take the responsibility to proactively respond to business disruptions in their future careers. I encourage PSCM students to plan their careers as soon as possible through listening and talking with industry speakers, joining professional societies such as ASQ and PMI, attending local chapters’ meetings, and doing internships with interested companies while in college. I look forward to seeing more PSCM students to become the chief innovators for their organizations.

Student Spotlights 

Michael Cross

Michael Cross

Why did you choose your major and what is your favorite course?

Growing up, I always had an interest in transportation. This eventually led to me to pursing a degree in Project and Supply Chain Management with a minor in Management Information Systems.

What sport or sports are you currently involved in?

For the past four years, I have been a part of the cross country and track team here at Behrend.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in your athletic career at Behrend?

Throughout my four years as an athlete, I can look back and say my greatest accomplishment as an athlete here at Behrend was being able to step up as an underclassman to fill the shoes of seniors who have graduated in the past.

How do you manage your time as a student athlete and how has being an athlete helped you in your academics?

In order to manage such a rigorous schedule, I made sure to always stay ahead of the deadlines and made sure I completed my work days ahead of time to stay on top of my classes. With that being said, being an athlete has instilled this type of work ethic inside and out of the classroom.

What advice would you give to future Behrend athletes?

For future incoming athletes, I would definitely evaluate your class load and make sure that you can balance both school as well as a sport at the same time.

What are you plans for after graduation?

After graduation, I will be working for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway in Chicago as a trainmaster.

Shreddhaa Vallabh ’20 

Shreddhaa Vallabh

What is your major and minor?

I’m majoring in Project and Supply Chain with a Management Information Systems (MIS) minor.

What is your current (or past) position and where?

Currently, I work at Hudson Lofts as a community assistant, but this past summer I interned at Sharon Regional Medical Center as a supply chain analyst.

How did you find your internship?

When I was in high school, I volunteered at Sharon Regional and talked to a member of the supply chain department. She informed me that the hospital hires summer supply chain interns at the collegiate level, which is why I made sure to apply for it last summer.

What attracted you to this particular internship?

I spent most of this past summer travelling, and knew that I would not be able to do a summer-long internship program. Fortunately, the supply chain department at Sharon Regional allowed me to maintain a flexible schedule. Other than flexibility, I also was familiar with the hospital and knew that it had an efficient supply chain that is led by a highly qualified member of the department.

What are some of your job responsibilities?

Among other tasks, I attended multiple meetings with vendors, calculated the quickest and most cost-efficient delivery routes, and aided in reviewing contracts and looking over product requests.

What is your biggest takeaway from your internship?

I learned that medical supply chain is extremely complex and involves a lot of coordinating that requires great organization and time management skills. Having good interpersonal skills is also crucial for the job. Other than these qualities, I also learned how to better manage my time and problem solve under time constraints.

What are your future career goals?

In the future, I would like to work for a company whose values and ideals match up with mine. As of right now, I am still keen on medical supply chain and would love to either work for a medical center or a company in the healthcare field.

What advice about internships would you give to current students?

My biggest piece of advice would be to apply to as many companies that you could see yourself being passionate about. Also make sure to have your resume and cover letters proof read by at least one person.

Alumni Spotlights

Arianna Yunik

Arianna Yunik ʼ18

What is your current position and where?

I’m an associate IT analyst at Erie Insurance. I am in a rotational program currently working in innovation/enterprise architecture.

How did you find your current job?

Carol Putman, assistant teaching professor of management, forwarded an email to me sophomore year for an IT internship. I ended up interning for two summers and transitioned into my full-time position this May.

What steps did you take while at Behrend to help you prepare for your current job?

The most important thing was applying for internships. Internships are a way to figure out what you like and dislike first-hand. You can do hours and hours of research, but you could be passionate about something you never expected. 

What do you like best about your job or your employer?

The rotational program allows me to try something new every six months. For instance, I am in a project management role on a project surrounding blockchain, but in November I will be working on something completely different. I’ve also been able to recruit at career fairs, serve on interview panels, and participate in outreach programs. Erie Insurance is supportive in stepping outside of your desk to contribute to the company in ways that you are passionate about.

Do you intend to pursue any further education or training?

I have taken several leadership courses like Leading Change and 90 Day Leadership Trek. With the tuition reimbursement program Erie Insurance offers, I intend to apply for grad school in the future.

How has your minor/certification helped you?

Adding an MIS minor gave me a great technology base for when I first started. My technical peers appreciate that I am proficient in web design, databases, etc. Weaving in a minor or certificate is very doable if you plan ahead!

What advice do you have for future graduates?

A great piece of advice that I received from Dr. Ido Millet, professor of management information systems, was to learn/work diligently your first couple weeks on the job. Put in some extra hours understanding the concepts you’re unfamiliar with. First impressions matter! 

What would you tell your college self if you could go back in time?

Our PSCM classes only scratch the surface of finance and budgeting, so I would tell myself to take more finance classes or training. You would be surprised how much finance comes up in your career from budgeting projects, communicating with stakeholders, or in your personal life surrounding employee benefits.

Morgan Lyons ʼ18

Morgan Lyons

What is your current position and where?

I am currently a project coordinator at deugro USA, a global freight forwarding company specializing in oversized, out of gauge, and project cargo. Our Erie office is located in Knowledge Park. My day-to-day operations include quoting and arranging road, ocean, air, and rail transport and the documentation for those moves as a third-party logistics liaison.

How did you find your current job?

A job listing was shared via email by Behrend faculty, and I sent in my cover letter and resume. A few weeks later I was called for a series of interviews and I started three weeks after graduation.

What steps did you take while at Behrend to help you prepare for your current job?

While at Behrend, I worked summer internships and participated in several honor societies. However, I believe what most accurately prepared me for my current position was developing the ability to multitask and absorb new material quickly with a diverse course load and extracurricular activities.

What do you like best about your job or your employer?

I love that I get to talk to people from all around the world. My company has over seventy offices, only two of which are in the U.S., and I get a lot of exposure to different cultures. I look forward to future opportunities to travel for my work. I also work with clients in several industries, including renewable energy, mining, and other manufacturing, which makes every day a unique challenge.

Do you intend to pursue any further education or training?

I am considering an M.B.A., but I’m not quite ready to jump back into school just yet. I am also in the process of obtaining my CAPM certification and would like to someday achieve PMP certification. Since starting at my current job I’ve completed IMDG Hazmat handling certification trainings.

How has your minor/certification helped you?

I have a minor in Applied Economics and a certificate in SAP. I feel my economics background gave me a more thorough understanding of the global marketplace in which I now participate, especially as I watch political changes directly impacting the industries with which I partner. I don’t use SAP at my company. However, I think that learning the SAP system, and then helping others understand it in my role as the SCM 445 grader in the 2017-18 school year, was a beneficial experience that helped me quickly pick up on new company-specific software in my new position.

What advice do you have for future graduates?

Don't expect to jump into a job as a “project manager,” or really management at all. Behrend does a great job of educating and preparing business students, but so much of what I do day-to-day is application of those skills and can’t be taught directly in a classroom. I honestly felt that I learned more in my first two weeks at my job than I did in the first year of college. Go into whatever career path you choose expecting to continue learning new things every day and emphasize your willingness to work hard on whatever you’re tasked to do. Also, stay well rounded. I wasn’t super active in clubs or sports. Instead, I worked as a student grader in addition to at least one, sometimes two, other jobs. After several of my interviews, I was told my strongest selling points were my interpersonal skills, ability to juggle so many things, and ability to handle stressful situations while remaining organized. These were all things developed primarily outside the classroom.

What would you tell your college self if you could go back in time?

Be willing and prepared to change your plan. Staying in Erie was not in the plan for me six or even three months before graduation. I had secured job offers in several other cities as close as Pittsburgh and up to 2,000 miles away, but circumstances changed, and I needed to stay put for a while. I spent way too much time worrying about not fitting my life into the perfect plan I had. At the end of the day, none of that mattered and I ended up in a much better position than I could have ever anticipated, both professionally and personally.

Updates and Events

Meet the PSCM Student Club Officers

Madison Start

Madison Start, Secretary

Madison Start from Peters Township, Pennsylvania, is a senior PSCM and International Business double major and Spanish minor. Last summer she was a procurement intern at Carpenter Technology-Dynamet. Outside of school, she is on a competitive international cheerleading squad that practices out of Pittsburgh and also is a member in Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority at Behrend.

Donovan Owens

Donovan Owens, Vice President

Donovan Owens, native to Waterford, Pennsylvania, is a senior PSCM major. He will be returning to Erie Insurance as an IT analyst after interning with them for the past two summers. Outside of school, Donovan is serving in the United States Army and will be commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation. 

Michael Cross

Michael Cross, Treasurer

Michael Cross, native to Fairview, Pennsylvania, is a senior PSCM major. After graduation, he will be working for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway in Chicago as a trainmaster. Outside of school, he is a part of the cross country and track team here at Behrend.


Joseph Waslousky

Joseph Waslousky, President

Joseph Waslousky from Pittsburgh, is a junior dual majoring in PSCM and Management Information Systems. He will be returning to Wayne Crouse Inc. to participate in his second summer internship with them. Outside of school, he works for Wayne Crouse Inc. when he is home.


BPMI (Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc.) Visit

BPMI (Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc.) Speaker Series 

Daniel Yunes Visit

Daniel Yunes, global operations and strategy professional at Logistics Plus Inc., visited campus on October 17, 2018.

John Kill Visit

John Kill, international purchasing manager of Finish Thompson, speaks to a group of students on October 24, 2018.


On Wednesday, October 31, the PSCM Club had a mini club-rush event in Clark Café.