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New lab boosts ID program: Industrial distribution receives state-of-the-art simulation lab in Otto Olsen
Debbie Epping
Antelope Staff
Photo by Debbie Epping
Senior industrial distribution majors Ashley Peters of Neligh (left), Jordan McNitt of Kearney (center) and Cody Spencer of Cheyenne, Wyo. (right) demonstrate their customer service skills at the city counter in the ID lab.
Photo by Debbie Epping
Jesse Keel, a senior industrial distribution major from Kearney loads packages on the conveyor belt in the warehouse of the lab.
Photo by Debbie Epping
Senior industrial distribution majors Stacy Tincher of Kearney (left), Seth Nelson of Belgrade (center) and Jeff Foster of Burleson, Texas (right) take one step closer to their future careers by taking part in real world experience in the new simulation learning lab. A ribbon cutting ceremony for the new lab was held on Tuesday, Oct. 13 from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. in Otto Olsen rooms 133 and 135, in which a continental breakfast was provided for all who attended.

Behind the walls of Room 133 in Otto Olsen, a transformation has taken place. What was once a machinery lab has been transformed into a cutting edge learning environment for industrial distribution students.

 “It’s going to position us better than any other students in the nation. The industrial distribution lab will give us hands-on experience that other industrial distribution students don’t have,” said Matthew Howe, a senior from Wood River and president of the industrial distribution organization at UNK.

Made possible by program partners and a grant written by Dr. Jim Toppen and Dr. Richard Meznarich, the lab was built totally without state funds.
The simulation lab is an exciting addition to the department for both students and faculty. “We want to be the best,” said Toppen, an associate professor of the industrial distribution department.

With the addition of the lab, UNK is well on its way to the top. Recently named among the top 41 university sales programs in the nation by the
University Sales Education Foundation (USEF), UNK was the only Nebraska institution to make the list.

“We’re recognized nationally partly because of the foundation of the program because we do focus on technical sales. But now we have a whole other dimension with our ability to do simulations,” Toppen said.

Faculty will be able to teach in a more real life setting, and students will clearly see what they’re getting into.“The simulation lab will give me the opportunity to gain real world experiences that I can apply during my internship and future career,” said Jordan McNitt, a senior industrial distribution major from Kearney.

The simulation lab contains several dimensions that allow students to have a hands-on learning experience every time they step foot into the lab.

The lab’s main office serves two functions: a place for sales calls and an office for the branch manager. A city counter allows students to experience business dialogue and processes as if they were talking to people coming in off the street.

A warehouse functions as both a storage area and as a place for students to learn operations simulations—the picking, the packing, the sorting and the shipping of goods.

The new lab even has a forklift to assist students in unpacking and loading shelves.
For more information on the exciting changes in the industrial distribution department, visit


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