Twelve from Purdue learn up close at Panama Canal

Just as the Panama Canal connects two oceans, a recent trip to the canal connected two universities through a study of logistics and international business.

Twelve faculty and students from Purdue collaborated with 18 from EAFIT University in Colombia, South America, to spend a week near the Panama Canal and learn how it operates. The Purdue course, in the College of Technology, is titled “Exploring Free Trade Zones and the Panama Canal.” The five-day trip to Panama was part of an eight-week class schedule.

The groups stayed in Balboa, Panama, on the Pacific Ocean side of the country. While there, they took part in a simulation of a canal crossing, visited the canal control room, and met with representatives of DHL, the largest carrier at the canal.

The Panama Canal conducts 25 crossings each day, 15 of which are scheduled. The remaining 10 are able to cross on a first-come, first-served basis. The capacity of the canal will double by 2014 as a planned expansion is opened to the shipping lines.

“You can read about this all day long. But you don’t understand the size and the scope of this major international crossing,” said Mathias Sutton. “The trip also lets us learn about the Panamanian perspective.”

Sutton, Edie Schmidt and Regena Scott, professors in the Department of Technology Leadership & Innovation, were leaders of the trip. They plan to offer this international experience every fall.

The collaboration with EAFIT may result in additional opportunities for graduate school and research.

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