Day 8: In the Classroom

Today we spent our day back at the University of Nicosia listening to guest speakers. The first speaker was from a ship management company called Fleet Management Limited. As another part of the small scale supply chain that makes up the transportation element of the larger, global supply chain, Fleet is in charge of staffing ships with the crew necessary to operate it. Within their company they have departments for safety and quality, crewing, training, technical elements, purchasing, and accounting. I would imagine their training department is similar to that of BSM Maritime Training that we visited last week, so this was an interesting connection. One interesting detail I noticed about Fleet compared to all the other players in the transportation industry that we have heard from so far is that they built their software in-house based on what they wanted it to do. This was different than I was expecting; since we have spent all week analyzing the reliance on other companies in the supply chain, I assumed a different company would be hired to complete this task or they would use a software already commissioned. In this case, however, I think it makes a lot of sense to not branch out because no one knows what the software should be able to do better than the people who will be using it.

After a lunch break, we heard about some topics I am significantly less familiar with: cryptocurrency and data forecasting. The CEO of the University of Nicosia, Antonis Polemitis, happens to be widely considered an expert on cryptocurrency and we were lucky enough to hear from him about the future of digitalization in our lifetime. He explained the system of centralized data by comparing much of the digital world we live in now to being on another person’s property: anyone using an application is the application owner’s guests, but the owner ultimately decides the rules and who is allowed to stay (or who is not). This was in contrast to cryptocurrency, which is decentralized, meaning no one is necessarily in charge. He compared this with the way the information found on the internet has no editor, unlike other forms of media like books and newspapers. His analogies greatly improved my understanding of the ideology behind blockchain and cryptocurrency, and brought my awareness to how much of our world today is in the hands of company executives. Mr. Polemitis also made clear he sees things like cryptocurrency and the Metaverse becoming huge entities over the next decade as our world becomes more digital. I cannot help but feel a reluctant about an increasingly digital world, but I recognize that this is how all the generations before me have felt about concepts like the internet and smart phones.

The data forecasting lecture, from Dr. Spyros Makridakis, was the most unfamiliar to me of all the topics today. Dr. Makridakis confirmed the little I knew about the subject, saying that they analyze patterns of the past to predict the future. What I did not know until today is that there are competitions held to challenge anyone who is interested in statistic or forecasting to experiment and determine which models are best. I found it interesting that the last two competitions assessed machine learning, which has clear applications to advance the field. Data forecasting, as the backbone of any and all large businesses in modern times, is a huge part of the supply chain behind the scenes. Every level of the supply chain could use data forecasting to improve efficiency of their operations, so I would imagine the field is ever-expanding.

With a lot of our day spent in a classroom, I am excited to have a bit more time to enjoy the outdoors tomorrow!

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