J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence

J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence

J.B. Hunt employees and the University of Arkansas representatives celebrate the announcement of the
J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence by Calling the Hogs in the J.B. Hunt Corporate auditorium.

The J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence was established in May 2017. This exciting opportunity was made possible through discussions between J.B. Hunt leadership and numerous University of Arkansas administrators. Key amongst these administrators were College of Engineering Dean, John English, Associate Dean for Research, Heather Nachtmann, and Walton College of Business Dean, Matt Waller.  The industry-funded research center is a collaboration between the College of Engineering, the Sam M. Walton College of Business (WCOB) and J.B. Hunt professionals. The faculty of the Department of Industrial Engineering (INEG) and the Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering (CSCE) will be the main contributors from the College of Engineering.

Dr. Chase Rainwater PhotoDr. Chase Rainwater, Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering, serves as center director and Dr. Brent Williams, Sam M. Walton College of Business Associate Dean of Executive Education serves as center co-director. The center is funded through a 5-year, $2.75 million grant provided by J.B. Hunt.  Center operations are overseen by a steering committee comprised of leadership from both participating colleges, as well as executives from J.B. Hunt. The center is physically located on the 4th floor of Bell Engineering Center on the University of Arkansas campus. The new collaborative space serves as an interdisciplinary work area for students, faculty and J.B. Hunt professionals.

The mission of the center is to develop innovative solutions to address emerging challenges and opportunities facing J.B. Hunt and the transportation logistics industry. The University of Arkansas faculty-led research teams are tasked with overcoming these challenges with technology, advanced decision-making tools and sound business strategy. The center measures successful research projects by their financial impact to J.B. Hunt and the degree in which they disrupt the transportation logistics industry. On June 1, 2017, the center launched its inaugural project which focuses on artificial intelligence solutions in the transportation domain. The project is led by CSCE Department Chair, Dr. Frank Liu, with support from CSCE Assistant Professor, Dr. Michael Gashler. In addition, INEG Assistant Professor, Dr. Xiao Liu, completes the interdisciplinary team with his expertise in statistics and delivering industry-driven technology solutions.  

The center plans to launch two additional projects in Fall 2017.  Approved results from each of these projects will be presented at an innovation showcase in Spring 2018. This showcase is intended to attract professionals, academics and students from the logistics field.