Torbjørn Netland, professor of Operations Management at ETH Zürich, blogger at Better Operations, and an on-line correspondent of many years, had invited me to deliver a guest lecture in his course on Global Operations Strategy.
I was keen to do this because, unlike most people I have discussed this visit with, I had actually heard of ETH. ETH is the German acronym for the Federal Institute of Technology, the school has 20,000 students and, according to the Shanghai Rankings, is the top engineering school in Switzerland. Worldwide, it is ranked 9th in Science, just behind the University of Tokyo and ahead of UCLA, and 27th in Engineering, just behind Carnegie-Mellon and still ahead of UCLA. Torbjørn’s short answer to those who don’t know about ETH is “it’s where Einstein went to school.”
In addition, Torbjørn and I have started working on the conversion of my books to an academic textbook for students of operations management and industrial engineering and it was time we met. I have been writing for manufacturing professionals, and have been looking for an academic partner to add the features needed for teaching including, for example, exercises at the end of each chapter.
My lecture was in the afternoon, to an audience of about 60 students, most of whom actually seemed to listen and participate actively in discussions of global supply chain issues in the manufacturing of commercial aircraft and consumer products like detergents, cosmetics, or processed foods.