New leadership takes helm at UA’s J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 473 views 

Claudia Rosales and Justin Chimka

The University of Arkansas’ J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence, focusing on supply chain innovation, is under new leadership.

According to a UA news release, Justin Chimka, associate professor of industrial engineering, is the new director. Claudia Rosales, an assistant professor of supply chain management, is co-director.

Established in 2017, the center is a collaboration among J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. in Lowell, the College of Engineering and the Sam M. Walton College of Business. It’s housed in the Bell Engineering Center on the UA campus.

This academic year, the center supports three graduate students in engineering and computer science finishing their assistantships and master’s projects at J.B. Hunt.

Chimka, who joined the engineering faculty in 2002, recently completed a nine-month off-campus duty assignment working with the engineering and technology team supporting intermodal services at J.B. Hunt during the 2022-23 academic year.

“Working with the E&T team at J.B. Hunt was the professional experience of a lifetime, so I am very thankful to deans Kim Needy and Brent Williams for this opportunity to continue working with the company,” Chimka said. “I am excited to foster the special relationship our campus has with J.B. Hunt by ensuring the center it supports returns great value to the company while providing exceptional research experiences for our students and faculty.”

Needy said Chimka has built longstanding relationships with leaders at J.B. Hunt through his research collaborations.

“Justin’s many years of experience in operations and logistics research and his history of working closely with J.B. Hunt made him the perfect choice to lead the center. I look forward to seeing how he will improve and expand its reach,” she said.

Likewise, Brent Williams, dean of Walton College, said Rosales’ background in engineering, quantitative analysis, operations and logistics made his decision a natural one.

“She will be a huge asset in creating innovative solutions for the supply chain industry. I am excited that she agreed to take on this role,” he said.

Doug Mettenburg, vice president of engineering and technology, oversees center activities on behalf of J.B. Hunt. Mettenburg manages many of J.B. Hunt’s tech-driven efforts and has strong ties to the university. He has a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the UA and is a member of the Arkansas Academy of Industrial Engineering.

“It is always a pleasure to collaborate with [UA] faculty and students,” he said. “Their efforts through the Innovation Center of Excellence are helping shape the future of supply chain.”

Chimka completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering and his Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh.

Rosales completed a master’s degree in quantitative analysis and her Ph.D. at the University of Cincinnati. Prior to joining the UA, she was an assistant professor at Michigan State University.