Port of Los Angeles

From A to B: Keeping California’s Goods Moving

  Find out how the CSU is preparing the skilled workforce that will keep both
  consumer goods and the state’s economy on track for decades to come.

Logistics—or how goods move from manufacturer to consumer—is a critical part of global trade. It’s also a booming industry and a white-hot job market; U.S. job growth in the sector is expected to increase 22 percent by 2022.

California is at the intersection of major global trading routes: The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach are the largest maritime gateways in North America; Oakland International Airport and LAX serve as principal air freight centers; and goods are distributed to and from Latin America and beyond via border crossings in the south.

By 2030, the Los Angeles metro area alone will need to fill 350,000 more jobs just to maintain the flow of goods, and professional jobs in logistics are also expected to grow for the rest of the state.

To meet these workforce needs, the California State University is preparing many of the logistics and supply chain management professionals that will support and advance the trade and transportation industry.

“Logistics is a global arena; companies from all over the world are competing in terms of efficiency and innovation,” says Thomas O’Brien, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT) at California State University, Long Beach. “As it evolves, the field of logistics is increasingly integrating with other sectors, such as business and finance, health and sustainable energy."

The CSU is preparing for the transportation jobs of the future by training students through expert knowledge and hands-on opportunities.

— Dr. Thomas O’Brien, executive director,
Center for International Trade and Transportation, CSU Long Beach

4 Good jobs for moving the goods

CSU faculty experts share some of the top jobs in logistics today.

Three people talking in a warehouse

Logistics Manager

California employs more logisticians than any other state. But what exactly does a logistics manager do? “[They] make decisions from the beginning of the transporting process to the end, so that companies operate as efficiently as possible,” says Dr. O’Brien. “They look at cost, they analyze whether to buy products overseas or locally, and they decide how to use various transportation methods in the most effective way.”

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona prepares students to enter the booming field of online business through the e-business concentration offered in the Department of Technology and Operations Management. “Cal Poly Pomona’s ‘learn by doing’ approach to logistics and e-commerce has earned 2018 graduates job offers at logistics centers throughout California, including Amazon, Sysco and Target,” says Yuanjie He, Ph.D., chair of the technology and operations management department at Cal Poly Pomona.

CSU Long Beach Alumnus Kevin Arguleta

Business Development & Trade Analyst

You might not immediately think a business development career is linked to logistics, but finding new clients and forging strong professional relationships are essential to the movement of goods.

CSU Long Beach alumnus Kevin Argueta (shown in the photo above) is an intern analyst in the business development division at the Port of Long Beach where he focuses on local and global trade policies and evaluates their effects on cargo coming into the San Pedro Bay Port Complex. His work includes analysis of the Trump Administration’s tariff lists imposed on China and assessing cargo traffic coming into the port.

“While using the skills I learned during my undergraduate studies at CITT, I gained an interest in learning more about transportation and the movement of goods and looked into potential careers in the industry,” says Argueta, who worked with METRANS and the Southwest Transportation Workforce Center while an undergraduate. There, he examined issues affecting trade and transportation, new policies, and how new technology might help workers.

Woman in hard hat with clipboard out doors

Environmental engineer & Scientist

Moving products across thousands of miles takes a toll on the environment, increasing the need for environmental engineers in logistics who can evaluate the impact on land, water and air.

“Environmental scientists and engineers work on improving logistics operations to protect natural resources,” says CSU Long Beach's Dr. Thomas O’Brien. “They ensure that a company’s operations comply with environmental laws and that customers understand their firm’s values on sustainability.”

When shipping materials and packaging are discarded, they become waste. At San José State University, for example, the Globalization and Environment course teaches students about issues related to corporate social responsibility and specific actions businesses can take to reduce their environmental impact.

“Nearly every organization has operations that have environmental consequences, presenting opportunities for efficiency improvements,” says Bruce Olszewski, lecturer in environmental studies at San José State.

For environmental engineers in logistics, this might mean working to modernize ship-loading equipment and diesel trucking fleets that serve the ports, reducing emissions and improving air quality in and around the port.

Weather forecasting, which is critical to safely transport goods across seas, offers another area for improving efficiency. SJSU meteorology students are learning how to do just that.

“Many alumni go on to work for companies such as StormGeo as weather forecasters for container ship movement and other transport,” explains Eugene Cordero, Ph.D., professor in the meteorology and climate science department at San José State.

Two men look at a computer screen while one points and talks

Information Systems Analyst

“A key to any supply chain is the storage and distribution of goods. Highly trained specialists will be needed to oversee artificial intelligence and automated processes that optimize warehousing and distribution. Many lower-skilled jobs will be eliminated as the demand goes up for workers with analytical thinking and creative problem solving skills,” explains Jian-yu Ke, Ph.D., assistant professor of information systems and operations management at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Information systems analysts help improve the efficiency of current processes by analyzing business problems and data. “The way goods are being monitored from manufacturer to consumer is becoming more streamlined, thanks to increased use of high-level automation,” says Bo Li, Ph.D., of California State University, Los Angeles' Center for Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Through the center’s internet of things (IOT) research, students are at the forefront of finding ways to track goods more transparently and in real time. “IOT is one of the hottest topics in logistics right now,” notes Dr. Li.

“Warehouses are being filled with censors and robots, making every part of the logistics process connected through information systems. Our students are studying the impact of IOT on the supply chain as a whole and how they can contribute to further improve its efficiency.”

California is outperforming the nation in job growth and the logistics sector will continue to be one of the state’s biggest job creators. Competition in the industry lies in the timeliness of shipping and access to goods from all over the world, which calls for increased use of automation and strategy.

1 IN 12

People employed in LA area by the San Pedro Bay Port Complex


Growth expected in the U.S. logistics industry by 2022


Jobs to fill by 2030 to maintain the flow of goods in LA

Career Pathways to the Ports

While California is home to 11 major sea ports, most products transported via the Pacific Ocean check in and out of the San Pedro Bay Port Complex, comprised of the Port of Long Beach (POLB) and the Port of Los Angeles. Together, these ports employ one in 12 people in the greater Los Angeles area.

Two CSU campuses have partnered with each port and its local community to offer pathway programs that prepare students for careers in the logistics industry:

  • California State University, Dominguez Hills works with Los Angeles Harbor College (LAHC) and the Port of Los Angeles to prepare LAHC students to successfully transfer to CSUDH to pursue a bachelor of science degree in global logistics. The Port of LA consults with both campuses to ensure emerging and relevant topics are integrated into the curriculum.

    Keong Leung, Ph.D., professor of supply chain management at CSU Dominguez Hills, says the pathway provides students with a unique opportunity to get a firsthand look at how the port works. “To gain deeper perspective at how truly important the ports are to our daily lives, students are taken on a boat tour around the complex where they see the facilities, operations and all of its moving parts,” says Dr. Leung.

    Students in the program also have the option to intern at the Port of LA, where they experience international trade and transportation or work at a UPS freight center where they learn about land transportation of goods, such as arranging shipments via trucking and tracking goods en route to warehouses.
  • A partnership between California State University, Long Beach, Cabrillo High School, Long Beach City College and the Port of Long Beach trains future logistics professionals starting in high school. All three schools receive consultation from the Port of Long Beach to develop a curriculum that helps students transition from high school to community college and, ultimately, earn a degree in global logistics from CSULB. As part of the program, CSULB students are offered internships at the POLB to get hands-on experience in logistics and related fields of study.

This article is the final installment in a series on California's transportation challenges and the ways the campuses of the California State University are working to solve them. Read our previous coverage on the CSU's role in finding solutions to California's gridlock, building better roads, making fossil fuels greener, keeping the state at the forefront of sustainable transportation, and researching the fuels of the fu​ture.

Story: Christianne salvador



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