Purdue University not only connects people to the world, as epitomized by alumnus Neil Armstrong’s moon landing, but it also connects people in the world. That was the case in May 2023, when students from Purdue participated in a supply chain-themed study abroad in Rotterdam Netherlands, home to the largest port on the European continent.
Rotterdam might just be considered the epicenter of the global supply chain. The Port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe and handles more cargo than any American port. As an integral passageway to the continent’s supply chain, port leaders are in the midst of making it the smartest port on earth via a comprehensive plan called Port Vision 2030. Automation and technology in the Port are constantly being upgraded. Today, automated cranes pick up and unload containers, whereas only 50,000 of 19 million containers are inspected in full. Unlike most American ports, the Port of Rotterdam didn’t experience any backlog of cargo and/or long ques during the pandemic due to its advanced technological innovations.
The Lean Six Sigma organization operates all around the globe, including in Rotterdam. Seen here, students are participating in a supply chain workshop at the Van Nelle Factory, a Dutch national monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site. CEO Edwin Boon, Certified Master Black Belt and VP Lean Six Sigma USA, graciously hosted a workshop for Purdue University students on their supply chain-themed study abroad in May 2023.
If it weren’t for Purdue University, these students would never have connected with CEO Boon. A special thanks goes to Casper de Man, Managing Partner (Nederland/Geschäftsführer/Deutschland) of the Lean Six Sigma organization, who was connected to the trip a year prior via the Purdue University Alumni Association in May 2022. Casper kept in touch and graciously organized the supply chain workshop for the students.
“Day 2 in Rotterdam was great and in the morning we participated in a Lean Six Sigma course/workshop with CEO Edwin Boon, Certified Master Black Belt. While I am already Green belt certified, it was still quite interesting to learn from another about the Lean Six Sigma process, as well as help me to remember some information.” Henry Bravata, Supply Chain and Sales Engineering Technology, ‘25
“Today it was super cool to learn more about lean six sigma from a professional because I’m in the process of getting certified right now.” Lily Renke, Organizational Leadership, ’25
“The start of the day’s Lean 6 Sigma training was very informative on how to narrow down priorities to improve business efficiency and effectiveness without wasting too much time.” Jonathan Kenny, Electrical Engineering Technology, ‘25
“Today’s itinerary included a special presentation by Edwin Boon, CEO of The Lean Six Sigma Company. Mr. Boon gave us a high-level introduction on Lean and Six Sigma topics and afterwards, we did some group activities. This was a great experience and it has motivated me to pursue a black belt in Lean Six Sigma in order to further my career.” Isaac Parman, Muti-Disciplinary Technology, ‘23
“Today we learned about lean six sigma from the lean six sigma company. It was very informative, especially since I plan on getting on certified in the future.” Ekene “Cassie” Megwa, Industrial Engineering, ‘25
Several students on the trip were thrilled to meet their textbook author from one of their supply chain courses at Purdue. Dutch industrialist and consultant Bram van Oirschot, author of Industrial Sales: A roadmap to increase your sales globally (whose text was used for IET 44275, Global Logistics), graciously stopped by to chat with students at the hotel in Rotterdam that morning. Below, at the Van Nelle factory during the supply chain workshop.