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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

A sweet take on supply chain management

Since the beginning of his cake making career in 2019, Brand said he’s made over 80 cakes.
Professor Jeffrey Brand and his cake he made for his students on the MUBB team. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Brand.

Some may find it hard to make a connection between supply chain management and baking, but for Marquette professor Jeffrey Brand the two go hand in hand.

Brand teaches a course called manufacturing planning and control. He said he’s always wanted to find a way to demonstrate supply chain management to his class in an interactive way, and he found that cake decorating can be the perfect way to achieve that.

“The class [manufacturing planning and control] is about how to design something, how to find the ingredients or our material, how to put it together and then how to deliver it,” Brand said.

Brand said his process for making a cake is very similar to the content of the class. First, he comes up with how he wants it to look, then he goes out to find the materials he needs to make the cake look as realistic as possible. After finding his ingredients, he has to find out how to construct the final product and present it to the class.

Since the beginning of his cake making career in 2019, Brand said he’s made over 80 cakes. At the Wisconsin state fair this year, Brand won ten blue ribbons for his cakes.

Although Brand is known by some for his accolades in cake making, he was in the supply chain management business long before becoming a professor, having worked for various companies including Harley-Davidson Motor Company for 11 years.

Brand makes cakes for guest speakers who come to talk to the class. He surprises each speaker with the cake when they walk in, and he said he enjoys seeing their reactions.

Some cakes Brand has made include a tractor for a guest speaker from John Deer, a container ship for a custom broker and a HarleyDavidson piston for a Harley employee. He’s also made a cake for engineers without borders inspired by their logo.

“The logo was a round globe. It was white with blue lines on it with a bird, and I made a round cake with blue lines, like a globe with a with a blue bird on it… It was an exact replica of what they gave me on the card. I gave that to them, and then they sold it at a silent auction to raise money,” Brand said.

Students from Engineers without borders posing with the Brand’s cake.
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Brand.

Sam Schmidt, a sophomore in the college of Health Sciences said he found Brand to be a unique professor in the way he made the material applicable to every major.

“I am a biomedical sciences major, not a business major, and Professor Brand took that into account and worked in different topics we learn in class, and how they are used in the medicine field…This is not only very interesting to me, but it also showed me how extensive professor Brand’s knowledge on supply chain is,” Schmidt said.

Similar to supply chain management, Brand said he faces numerous challenges while making cakes. For instance, he made a cake for his students on the men’s basketball team that looked like a basketball, and he said this project was one of the most challenging.

The first challenge Brand faced was the materials. He said he’d never heard of some of the ingredients he would need, and he had to go out and buy different pans and colors of fondant.

“Then I had to figure out how to put it together, which is really the hard part. I watched a video on how basketballs are made, and I followed the exact same way. Then the next last thing I do is I figure out how I’m going to get it to market,” Brand said.

The next step was getting the cake from his house to the classroom, so Brand said he had to purchase a large cake box.

“It was over £10. It was round and it was rolling off the cake board. So, I had to figure out how to secure that,” Brand said.

For his final exam review in manufacturing planning and control, he brought in a blank cake for students to draw the review material on. One at a time each student came up and drew one part of a diagram they derive their class material from.

“They’ve been bugging me to make a cake, so I said I would and then I was just thinking maybe I should make a point out of it,” Brand said.

After each student used piping to draw the diagram on the cake, everyone got a slice, and that’s how the class closed out the semester.

“I’m an amateur baker. I don’t do this for money, and I’m not really that good at it, but what I’ve learned is that I always get better the next time I do it,” Brand said.

This story was written by Sophia Tiedge. She can be reached at [email protected].

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Sophia Tiedge
Sophia Tiedge, Executive News Editor
Sophia is a sophomore from Arlington Heights, IL studying journalism. This year she will serving as the Executive News Editor after spending last year as a news reporter. In her free time, Sophia enjoys reading, working out and going to new places with her friends. This year Sophia is looking forward to collaborating with others and learning more about what happens on campus.

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