Interview with Rafael Díaz, new Professor at ZLC


Rafael Diaz (Venezuela) is the new Professor of Supply Chain Management at the MIT-Zaragoza International Logistics Program. He is also a Research Affiliate at the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics. Previously, he has been a Research Associate Professor of Modeling and Simulation at Old Dominion University’s Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center (VMASC).

Question: A few weeks in, you are probably finding your feet now and forming firm impressions of the region of Aragon, the capital of Logistics, and how ZLC fits into the puzzle. Has anything in particular stood out as impressive, interesting or just different?
In my view, ZLC is well-positioned at a great location that provides access to many markets and sources that eases the exchange of goods and service in the European region. This location is privileged as it favors the development and implementation of innovative technology that facilitates this exchange. In this sense, it provides a great environment to engage in research activities that advance the complex and fascinating field of logistics as technology becomes more pervasive over time.

Question: What are your favorite topics to research? Why?
There are many research topics that I´m interested in. I would say there are two domains that capture a substantial part of my activities.  One is referred to investigating the interrelation between logistics drivers and production systems and ways to improve supply chain operations.  The second one entails using quantitative techniques to help decision makes in community and government policy-making about disaster preparedness and recovery.
I am fascinated by investigating mechanisms that bring information about demand into operational decisions. Particularly, I am interested in examining Lean production systems and production systems that leverage information to make smart decisions across the enterprise.  In addition, I am interested in how quantitative methods can assist governments in decision-making. I have particular interest in how local, state, and federal governments can become more efficient while maintaining an acceptable level to residents and citizens of their localities.
Question: What opportunities for R&D and sharing innovative ideas do you foresee during you time with ZLC?

Answer: First of all, being so close to so many and dissimilar supply chain perspectives in such geographic location improve the chance to examine relevant topics whose solutions would benefit the practitioner and academic communities. As the European community engages in more efficient, sustainable, and responsive operations, we see many opportunities to analyze and develop methods and technologies that assist decision maker in improving their operations.
Question: As you’re probably now aware, October is a rather special month here. You have jumped right in the middle of it!
For whatever reason, religions, traditional or just partying, everyone is out on the streets celebrating Pilar, at all times of the day and night. Don’t worry; “normality” will be resumed. So what are your impressions of this crazy time?

These times are great for engaging with the community through local festivities and a great opportunity to taste flavors of different traditions that characterize Zaragoza. From honoring the virgin with flowers to tasting delicious dishes around the plaza, it really gives you a true sense of the region, its customs, and a rich culture that makes this engagement fascinating.