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A Cross-Discipline, Project-Based Approach to Teaching Engineering Economy

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Integrating Engineering Economy into Curricula

Tagged Division

Engineering Economy

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.42.1 - 24.42.21

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Paper Authors


Heath J. LeBlanc Ohio Northern University Orcid 16x16

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Heath J. LeBlanc is an Assistant Professor in the Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department at Ohio Northern University. He received his MS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University in 2010 and 2012, respectively, and graduated summa cum laude with his BS in Electrical Engineering from Louisiana State University in 2007. His teaching interests include control, signals and systems, electric circuits, engineering economy, electromagnetics, and system design. His research interests include cooperative control of networked multi-agent systems, resilient and fault-tolerant control, and networked control systems. He received the Best Student Paper Award in the area of Intelligent Control Systems and Optimization at the 2010 International Conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics, and he received an Honorable Mention Award at the 2012 International Conference on Hybrid Systems: Computation & Control.

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Bryan O'Neil Boulanger Ohio Northern University

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A Cross-Discipline, Project-Based Approach to Teaching Engineering EconomyEach department within our College of Engineering teaches its own section of engineeringeconomy. Economic analysis in practice, however, evaluates projects with contributions fromseveral different engineering disciplines. In an effort to close the gap between the educationalexperience and experience in practice, we have developed a project-based approach to fostercross-disciplinary interactions between Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) students andCivil Engineering and Engineering Technology (CE) students during the fall 2013 semester.ECE students were placed on project teams with CE students and were tasked with responding toa request for proposal (RFP) concerning the development of a data center. The ECE studentswere enrolled in a one-credit engineering economy course whereas the CE students wereenrolled in a three-credit project management course, with engineering economy included as amodule.The instructors created a phantom company, Orange Inc., in order to set up the project-basedapproach. Orange Inc. was presented to the students as a technology company whose productlines compete with Apple and Samsung in the consumer electronics and online marketplaceindustries. Orange Inc. was experiencing rapid growth, which caused the online marketplace toexperience a decline in availability. Therefore, Orange Inc. released an RFP for a design-buildof a 50,000-node data center to handle the company’s expanding server needs. The RFP wasreleased to interested “companies” (groups from the CE project management course) whoresponded to the request with a bid submission. ECE students were tasked with developingserver specifications for the data center RFP and acting as Orange Inc. liaisons to the CE“companies” preparing bid proposals. A total of six bids (one from each of the CE “companies”)were submitted to Orange Inc.’s Chief Financial Officer (the ECE instructor) and ChiefDevelopment Officer (the CE instructor). The full estimates from each completed bid were thenassigned back to the ECE students, who conducted the full economic analysis of the submissions.Selection criteria presented within the RFP were then used along with the economic analysis ofthe projects to select three bids for further consideration. Representatives from the threecompany finalists then presented their proposals to the combined ECE and CE classes. A finalwinning bid was selected based on the selection criteria, economic analysis, and “company”presentations.This innovative approach successfully integrated content across two courses, while providingopportunities for students from four different programs to interact with each other on one project.The instructors’ desire for the ECE students to learn more about project management and the CEstudents to have actual clients provided easy access for coupling the interdisciplinarycomplexities of a major project for engineering economy students. The result was an increasedstudent appreciation and awareness of the effort required to fully bid out a proposal and theeconomic factors involved in actual cross-disciplinary projects. Students were evaluatedindependently and as a member of their respective group or “company”. Evaluations includedgeneration of project documents and assessments, as well as performance reflection pieces at theconclusion of the project.

LeBlanc, H. J., & Boulanger, B. O. (2014, June), A Cross-Discipline, Project-Based Approach to Teaching Engineering Economy Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana.

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