Student Research Engagement

The Center for Supply Chain Research provides patrons with unique opportunities to engage with students through research projects.

The Center for Supply Chain Research®️(CSCR®️) believes next to internships and co-ops, working with the center’s patrons on a collaborative research project is perhaps the next best opportunity to prepare students for the professional setting they will experience when they graduate. CSCR provides our supporters with the opportunity to submit relevant research projects to enable collaboration with our top supply chain and information systems (SCIS) students.

Information for Students

Visit the Student Information page to learn more about the student side of the research engagement process. Students interested in participating in a research project should email Tracie Shannon or Steve Tracey for more information.  

Information for Patron Companies

With the help of supporting companies, Penn State supply chain students tackle real-world business challenges and apply their knowledge and skills to help solve firms' emergent problems. CSCR is pleased to offer this unique learning opportunity for students while also providing our patrons high-quality research with tangible results. 

Project Categories Student Groups
Schreyer Thesis
Schreyer Honors College supply chain and management information systems students work on a year-long in-depth research project.
Schreyer Honors students 
Schreyer Honors Option
In this category, students turn a non-honors class into an “honors option” course, by adding a research project that is aligned with the class’s coursework. 
Schreyer Honors students
Sigma Chi Mu Tau (SCMT)
Members or prospective members of SCMT, a national supply chain honors society, complete a supply chain research project.
Sigma Chi Mu Tau members

Nittany Lion Consulting Group
Capstone team projects for MBAs or Sapphire students. MBA projects run from October to February and Sapphire projects run each semester. Proposals are collected year-round. Teams consist of all business school majors. 

Second-year MBAs or Sapphire seniors

Supply Chain Management 496
Semester long projects for junior and senior undergraduates to work independently with their advisor to complete a project.

SCIS juniors and seniors 
Learning Factory
A project team from the College of Engineering. Asks sponsors to make a donation of $3,500, of which up to $1,000 is made available to the team for supplies and travel necessary to complete the project.
Engineering students and SCIS students

High School Project
Project that is chosen by Dr. Bob Novack and Tracie Shannon who then works with a select group of high school students to complete. 

High school seniors 
Ph.D. Student Projects
Smeal SCIS faculty and Ph.D. students team up with corporate sponsors on a more long-term engagement addressing supply chain problems that typically don't have a readily available "off the shelf" solution.
Ph.D. students 

Student Project Proposal Submission, Collection, and Assignment Process

The project proposal submission process begins ten weeks before the spring and fall semesters. The process is as follows:

  • 10 weeks before project proposals are due, a “call for projects” email is sent
  • 2-4 weeks before the proposal due date, a reminder email is sent
  • 2 weeks before the start of the semester, projects are collected and classified (Schreyer, Honors Option, SCM 496, etc.)
  • 1 week before the semester starts, patrons will be called for clarification on projects and to get NDAs started if needed
  • 1-2 weeks into the semester, students are assigned to a project based on a student’s background, interest, and their instructor/advisor’s assessment

Acceptable Projects

Best-In-Class Practices
This type of research project addresses best-in-class practices for a particular process. The methodology usually focuses on research already publicly available, and the student will synthesize the existing literature to identify the best practices in a particular area.

The student might also interview executives in other companies to determine how they are performing a particular process. If this methodology is used, we require the student to deliver a summary of results to not only the company submitting the project but also to the pool of executives interviewed. All responses remain anonymous and we do not permit students to interview executives to ask for data or metrics. An example might be what other companies are doing with corporate social responsibility practices.

Company Specific – Data Intensive
This type of research project is focused on a specific problem experienced by a company and requires the company to provide data to the student for analysis. An example of this type of project might be an analysis to determine optimal shipping policies to a firm’s customers.

Company Specific – Process Intensive
This type of project is focused on a specific problem experienced by a company but is process, not data, specific. An example might be an analysis of how to eliminate congestion on the receiving dock of a distribution center.

Company Specific – Data and Process Intensive
This type of project requires an in-depth analysis by the student since it incorporates both data and process aspects. An example might be redesigning the picking area of a distribution center based on order profiles and shipping schedules.

Current Topics
These projects cover all of the remaining types of projects that might be submitted. Generally, these types of projects can involve publicly accessible data or publicly available best practices. Although not specific to your organization, these topics have some impact on how you conduct business.

Groundwork for Success

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
If your firm requires a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for the research, PENN STATE WILL NOT ACCEPT A COMPANY NDA. A Penn State approved NDA designed for research projects will be made available. If you have questions regarding Penn State’s NDA, please email Meghan McMullen.

A Schreyer thesis project will be made publicly available. However, if confidentiality is an issue, the student can request that a two-year hold be placed on the thesis so it will not be available to the public for that two-year term. Any research project that is not a Schreyer thesis will not be made publicly available and will remain the property of the submitting company.

Stay Engaged
Engagement with students during the entire process will ultimately improve the quality of the project and the experience of the student. The more context and direction you as a patron can provide to the students, the better their deliverables are going to be.


Need more information?

If you have further questions or want to discuss a student research engagement opportunity, please email Meghan McMullen.