Asee peer logo

A Model Curriculum For Service Systems Engineering

Download Paper |


2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.65.1 - 12.65.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Leonard Bohmann Michigan Technological University

author page

Sheryl Sorby Michigan Technological University

author page

Dana Johnson Michigan Technological University

author page

Kris Mattila Michigan Technological University

author page

John Sutherland Michigan Technological University

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Model Curriculum for Service Systems Engineering


Over the past 100 years, the US economy has evolved from one based primarily in the goods- producing sector (agriculture, manufacturing, and mining) to the service sector. Today the service sector accounts for more than 80% of US Gross Domestic Product and more than 85% of the workforce. In fact, today many engineering graduates go on to work in service sector industries instead of more traditional manufacturing industries. In part, the service sector may be such a large segment of our economy because its processes are highly inefficient. Engineering problem-solving and talent, if properly applied to processes in the service sector, could serve to significantly increase efficiency and reduce costs, similar to advances made in the goods- producing sector over the past century. In 2003 Michigan Tech received a planning grant from the National Science Foundation to define curricular characteristics for Service Sector Engineering through a Delphi Study. Armed with these characteristics, a workshop was convened at Michigan Tech in August 2006 to define a Service Systems Engineering curriculum. Workshop participants consisted of faculty from several universities as well as industry leaders interested in engineering for the service sector. An additional grant from NSF’s Course Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program was recently awarded for the implementation of this curriculum.


We are living in a service economy and our educational system has failed to keep pace to provide employers with graduates meeting the demands of the service sector. Over 80% of the economic activity in the United States is within the service sector1 with similar high rates in other developed countries.2 This sector is also growing; between 2000 and 2005 employment in this sector grew by 2.7 million while employment in the other sectors shrank by 2.1 million.3

A recent report by the National Academy of Engineering4 described how innovation and productivity gains in service industries positively affect the whole economy, but the academic community could do more to meet the needs of service businesses. They indicate that the needs of the service industry could be better meet by adapting Industrial Engineering concepts and methodologies to services. The National Science Foundation started the Service Enterprise Engineering program in 2002 to focus on the “design, planning and control of operations and processes in commercial and institutional service enterprises.”5 Universities are beginning to respond by creating educational programs to address the design needs of service enterprises, mostly at the graduate level.6,7 This paper describes the development at Michigan Tech of the first undergraduate degree program to address the unique engineering needs of the service economy.

Bohmann, L., & Sorby, S., & Johnson, D., & Mattila, K., & Sutherland, J. (2007, June), A Model Curriculum For Service Systems Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1631

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015