By Andrew Goldstein, Marketing Communications Specialist
Most people walk past O’Brien Hall and see the finished product, a 110,000-square-foot building that symbolizes the future of corporate education in Marquette.
Contained within that bigger picture, though, are endless details: 182 tons of armor, more than 9,000 bricks on the exterior facade, and 251 gates, just to name a few.
For Marquette alumnus Mark Cotteleer, Bus Ad ’88, his alma mater’s business school is a symphony of components, from the largest steel beam to the wall-mounted pincushions in the principal’s suite offices—all a miracle of modern supply chain management.
“Look at all the millions of pieces that went into that building there today. It didn’t happen by magic,” says Cotteleer. “Eventually, someone had to physically deliver it to the corner of 16th and Wisconsin, then piece it together. It’s amazing. This is the supply chain.
As managing director of supply chain operations at Deloitte Consulting, Cotteleer now has another great building to showcase: Deloitte’s The Smart Factory @ Wichita, a state-of-the-art facility that is advancing the future of industry. The Smart Factory features a fully functional manufacturing production line that combines cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, cloud and edge applications, robotics, vision solutions, and more to improve production performance.
Cotteleer hopes it will be a model for companies that contract with Deloitte, something tangible they can see and touch to imagine their own digital transformations.
“This will help our customers and other stakeholders understand the promise and possibility of smart manufacturing,” says Cotteleer.
A group of Marquette University officials flew to Wichita in late January to meet with Cotteleer and tour the Wichita State University factory, which houses The Smart Factory on its Innovation Campus, to bring together Deloitte’s technology expertise with research capabilities , university education and innovation . That group included Tim Hanley, Keyes Dean of the College of Business Administration and a former global industry leader at Deloitte.
“At Marquette, we are very focused on how best to partner with industry to provide our students with the best applied learning experience,” says Hanley. “We visited the state of Wichita to better understand their industry partnerships and to see one of the best smart factory experiences in the country.”
John Knapp, executive director of Marquette’s Innovation Alley, also made the trip, hoping to bring the lessons of The Smart Factory’s partnership with Wichita State back to Milwaukee.
“You have talent, technology, resources and funding; all of these things need to be connected to each other,” Knapp says. “What I’m trying to do is understand how Wichita State has put these pieces together over time. Alley towards a more advanced ecosystem”.
Cotteleer graduated from Marquette long before there was an Innovation Alley on campus. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and wrote computer code for his first job at Accenture Consulting. However, he soon discovered where his true passion was: the garage.
“I was never going to get that job because of my finance degree,” says Cotteleer.
Cotteleer solved the problem by earning three more degrees: an MBA and a Master of Science in industrial engineering from the University of Michigan, followed by a Ph.D. from Harvard Business School. However, Cotteleer still sees his Marquette degree as critical.
“I got a world-class education in Marquette, full stop,” Cotteleer says. “I have gone from Marquette to some of the greatest universities by reputation in the world. The preparation I got at Marquette was a huge difference to me and I didn’t realize it at the time.
Today’s students can find similar value in a Marquette education. Marquette Business’s undergraduate and graduate supply chain management programs are ranked in the top 20 nationally by US News and World Report, top marks in Wisconsin. According to the latest survey data, nearly 100% of supply chain graduates either find a job within three months of graduating or proceed immediately to graduate school.
Part of Marquette’s status as an elite place to study supply chain management is due to its location in the heart of Milwaukee, which has long been known as “the machine shop of the world” due to its strong manufacturing base . Harley-Davidson, Regal Renord, AO Smith and Johnson Controls are just a few of the multinational companies that have major manufacturing facilities in the city, ensuring a lasting job market for supply chain graduates.
Just as machines are changing factory work, digitally driven assembly lines are upending decades of supply chain practices. Knapp says that for Milwaukee to maintain its status as a manufacturing hub, the city will need to transform itself from a global machine shop to “manufacturer space,” an area that uses technology beyond traditional machining.
“I think we still do stuff here and we’re really good at that and it’s important, but we need to take businesses in this region along that digital transformation journey,” Knapp says.
While Deloitte built The Smart Factory to be a role model for its clients, Cotteleer hopes it can be a model for her city and her alma mater as well, showing both of them what it will take to maintain strength in an ever-changing industry. .
“I believe Marquette has a role to play in furthering the cause of manufacturing in southeast Wisconsin and therefore in the United States,” says Cotteleer. “The tools we’re using in Wichita should be implemented if production is successful in southeast Wisconsin.”
Before Cotteleer used these tools and before coming to Deloitte or earning degrees from Harvard or Michigan, he learned the essence of supply chain management at Marquette.
“The supply chain is about getting the right product to the right place, at the right time, at the right cost, to the right person,” says Cotteleer.
It’s a mantra that has informed Cotteleer’s professional life ever since and one that scores of Marquette graduates take with them into the workforce every year.