IDIS students partner with Fastenal, Thermo Fisher Scientific for service-learning project

Students in the Industrial Distribution and Logistics (IDIS) program spent the semester working on a service-learning project with two local industry partners. Fastenal, a leading industrial distribution company, operates a vendor managed inventory (VMI) operation within the Greenville facility of Thermo Fisher Scientific, a world-class pharma manufacturing company. The VMI houses over 15,000 part numbers, valued at approximately $20 million.

Thermo Fisher uses the same SAP enterprise software taught within the IDIS curriculum, providing our students a valuable, real-world warehouse and inventory control experience. Shamar Williams, a student in the IDIS 3850 Warehousing and Distribution course, said, “Working inside Fastenal gave me the hands-on experience to understand how cycle counting and inventory analysis affects a company in the real-world.”

Students working in teams of two were tasked with conducting on-site, physical inventory counting within the Fastenal VMI. During the semester, students counted over 5,400 unique part numbers with a counting accuracy over 96 percent. This accuracy is remarkable considering the compressed on-site time (to match their lab class) and lack of familiarity with the product. In total, each student contributed 4-6 hours at the Thermo Fisher plant working under the supervision of Matt Moore, district manager for Fastenal, and Edward Byrne, general manager for the Fastenal-Thermo Fisher Site. Both Moore and Byrne praised the students on their professionalism, hard-work and dedication to the project. This is a true testament to our ECU students and the quality education delivered by the IDIS program.

The service-learning project and partnership was so successful that some students were offered internships, and Thermo Fisher advertised internships with our program for the first time. The project was developed by IDIS faculty members Mark Angolia and Natalie Aman, and the ECU College of Engineering and Technology’s industry partners have agreed to allow it to continue in future semesters and to incorporate other classes if possible.