The Business School Faculty Spotlight Series
Sara Saberi has devoted herself to researching such in-depth topics as supply chain management and blockchain technology.
And with the onset of COVID-19, she delved into a new research area: Creating frameworks that enable rapid scale-up of the manufacture of new, competitive products—e.g., face shields and protective barriers—in times of crisis. In fact, she and several colleagues are currently underway with a National Science Foundation-funded project, “Supply Chain Management for Future Manufacturing.”
“I will analyze the relationships between technological, organizational, or environmental factors and the probability of success in pivoting production,” she explains, “and prepare an adaptable game-based simulation to identify new network characteristics for future manufacturing.”
Saberi has long embraced complicated subject matter: She joined WPI in July 2016 with a focus on operations and supply chain management, and has woven those concepts—and, more recently, blockchain technologies—throughout her research, instruction, and community service.
One of her research areas is what she refers to as “supply chain networks equilibrium.” This involves modeling product supply chain networks to understand the interactions of those who act in their own self-interest and the subsequent impact on business and society—such as profits, costs, risks, the environment, and on-time deliveries.
She has also explored the security of supply chains, the impact of the “new, disruptive technology” of blockchain on supply chain networks, and sustainability in supply chains. For the latter, she modeled a supply chain in which all those involved—including the suppliers and freight delivery and handling companies—considered the environmental impacts of producing, inventorying, and transporting products. Simply put, she says, a truly effective, sustainable, end-to-end supply chain requires strong collaboration among all parties.
“This is a huge issue from both managerial and economical perspectives, since environmental concerns are increasingly becoming central to global economy and political arenas.”
Saberi explores these various topics with her students, as well. In her teaching, she emphasizes group-based assignments for solving case studies and encourages respectful debate, she says; during COVID, she also required students to submit recorded voice-over-PowerPoint to help improve their presentation skills.
“I find that students benefit when I engage them in hands-on problem-solving and teamwork,” Saberi says. By asking students to base projects on real-world subjects that they are passionate about, they “benefit from the enthusiasm, creativity, and scholarship of their team members.”
Saberi began her teaching journey 15 years ago in Iran (with core engineering courses), and has since taught industrial engineering at the University of Putra Malaysia and operations management at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. At WPI, she mentors PhD, graduate and undergraduate students, and is involved with numerous MQP and IQP projects.
She strives for constant self-improvement in her teaching, she says; she attends workshops and Food for Thought sessions, and she closely consults with senior colleagues.
“My teaching goal is to create an environment where my students can reach their fullest potential as scholars, and to foster thoughtful, critical, engaged, and independent thinkers,” Saberi says. “I strive to provide students with a set of analytical tools that they can confidently use while in the job market and, most important, along their career paths.”
– Women in Operation Research and Management Science
– Transportation Research Part E (TRE) journal
– Designing Operations for Competitive Advantage
– Materials Management in Supply Chains
– Data Analysis for Decision Making
Learn more about Sara Saberi.
About The Business School at WPI
As the business school of a premier technological university, The Business School at Worcester Polytechnic Institute integrates science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) into all of its programs.
Consistent with WPI’s mission of theory and practice, The Business School emphasizes a project-based approach to learning and doing that considers the ethical and social context of everything we do. Our students take advantage of the university’s strong relationships with technology-intensive organizations around the world.
Graduates of WPI’s Business School are prepared to lead at the intersection of technology and business, applying entrepreneurial thinking and harnessing the power of technology and teamwork to solve complex human problems.
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