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A Case Study: Educating Transportation Engineers with Simulation Software

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Technical Session

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.19.1 - 22.19.10



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Paper Authors


Brittany Lynn Luken Georgia Institute of Technology

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Brittany Luken is a Ph.D. candidate in the Georgia Institute of Technology's Transportation Systems group. Brittany's research efforts are focused on investigating customer's online search and purchase behavior. Brittany was recently awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. She is also the recipient of an Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Graduate Research Fellowship, Georgia Department of Transportation Scholarship, and Gordon W. Schultz Graduate Fellowship.

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Susan L. Hotle Georgia Institute of Technology

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Susan Hotle is a graduate research student in civil engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She has received the Women in Transportation Scholarship, Institute of Transportation Engineers Scholarship, Mundy Travel Scholarship, and President's Undergraduate Research Award.

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Meltem Alemdar Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Meltem Alemdar is a Research Scientist in the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Alemdar has experience evaluating programs that fall under the umbrella of educational evaluation, including K-12 educational curricula, after-school programs, and comprehensive school reform initiatives. Across these evaluations, she has used a variety of evaluation methods, ranging from multi-level evaluation plans designed to assess program impact to monitoring plans designed to facilitate program improvement. Dr. Alemdar’s leadership evaluation work includes serving as lead evaluator on NASA’s electronic Professional Development Network (ePDN), a new initiative dedicated to preparing teachers to engage their students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields through the use of NASA-developed learning materials and resources. She also serves as the lead evaluator on several NSF funded Noyce Scholarship programs. She has direct experience leading evaluation of STEM programs and has contributed to evaluations of leadership and STEM related innovations.

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Laurie Anne Garrow Georgia Institute of Technology

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Laurie Garrow is an Associate Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to joining the faculty, she worked for five years in the research and development group for United Airlines.

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A Case Study: Educating Transportation Engineers with Simulation SoftwareWhen transportation engineers study air travel, they often consider facility design, airtraffic management, environmental impacts, capital financing mechanisms and otherfactors. However, there is often little or no discussion of airlines themselves, despite theirsignificant role in air travel.During a semester long undergraduate and graduate class on airports and freight, newcurriculum was incorporated to fill this void. Specifically, this new curriculum involvedthe use of an airline simulation software which is designed to give students hands-onexperience with some of the major issues challenging the airline industry. Teams ofstudents were asked to make decisions as if they were operating their own airline. . Indeveloping their airlines, students considered scheduling, staffing, fleet capacity andmaintenance, advertising, and ticket prices. The curriculum culminated with the airlinesthe students created competing against one another in the real-world environmentprogrammed into the simulation software.Towards the end of the semester, each student team critiqued and analyzed their progressand reported their findings. Students spent many hours per week outside of the classworking on their simulation project. Students emphasized in their reports that they had adeeper understanding and appreciation of the complexities involved in managing anairline. Further, the students reported that this simulation activity was ‘so real’ and a verypositive learning experience. They also felt that the complexities of scheduling (both forservice and for maintenance), the amount of capital investments that need to be made,and the difficulty in designing a profitable airline business were the critical aspects ofrunning an airline. Our results also showed that students were deeply engaged with thesimulation project, learned to interpret and respond to many aspects of their airline’soperation, made collaborative decisions in dealing with a variety of challenges, anddeveloped a range of decision making skills.This method proved to be very successful in conveying how airlines operate and gettingstudents to recognize considerations airlines make in their daily operations. This was aunique way to incorporate cross-disciplinary concepts into a civil engineering class.With this method’s success, we have begun adapting the simulation program into asummer camp for high school students interested in transportation engineering and theairline industry.Keywords: transportation engineering, airlines, simulation

Luken, B. L., & Hotle, S. L., & Alemdar, M., & Garrow, L. A. (2011, June), A Case Study: Educating Transportation Engineers with Simulation Software Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17301

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