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ODU and Port of Virginia Sign Agreement to Offer Software Classes for Students

By Noell Saunders

The Port of Virginia and the Maritime and Supply Chain Management Program at Old Dominion University are collaborating to offer courses that integrate cutting-edge technology to enhance students' data analysis skills.

On May 23, at the World Trade Center building in downtown Norfolk, ODU's provost and vice president of academic affairs, Augustine "Austin" Agho, and the CEO and executive director of the Port of Virginia, John Reinhart, signed an agreement to allow students and faculty to use the port's software.

"If you are looking for a good example of industry/education partnership, this is it," Agho said. "Students get to learn first-hand from people in the maritime industry, which is something most business schools don't have."

Navis, a company based in Oakland, California, provides software used by the Port of Virginia. Among other benefits, it helps terminals plan where to put cargo or supporting automation. The Navis technology will be used in several courses at ODU during the fall semester. Faculty will examine a vessel operation with port personnel to develop lessons.

"We are giving students access to state-of-the-art technology and terminal operating software and systems," Reinhart said. "We are pleased to have this educational opportunity for students because it will open up a lot of global opportunities."

Seaports play a pivotal role in the world's economy. Since the 1990s, global container traffic has grown annually an average of 10 percent. Shipping and maritime supply chain have benefited greatly from emerging technologies, as well as data and management analytics.

"This collaboration gives our students access to the predominant technology used to manage ports," said Jeff Tanner, dean of ODU's Strome College of Business. "It's consistent with our leadership role in maritime trade and port logistics programming."

Ling Li, professor, Eminent Scholar and chair of the Department of Information Technology and Decision Sciences, said the collaboration connects public and private industries to the University.

"ODU will provide faculty expertise in curriculum design and instruction, which will help both undergraduate and graduate students as well as port employees."

Susan Gardner, general manager and senior director for North America at Navis, said students will be able to intern with Navis and the port.

"We see this as potential employment opportunities for us. If students choose to work at the port, they will already be familiar with the system."

The collaboration among ODU's Maritime and Supply Chain Management program, the Port of Virginia and Navis will train undergraduate and graduate students on the port's terminal operating system, which manages more than 300 container terminals worldwide.

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