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A Real-World Example for Student Learning: BTSU Cafeteria Simulation

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Emerging Computing and Information Technologies II

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

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Paper Authors


Hassan Rajaei Bowling Green State University

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Hassan Rajaei is a professor of computer science at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. His research interests include cloud computing, High Performance Computing (HPC), distributed simulation, parallel and distributed processing, communication networks, wireless communications, and virtual training environments. Rajaei received his Ph.D. from Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden, and he holds a M.S.E.E. from the University of Utah, and a BS from University of Tehran.

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Ramin Khakzad

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Simulation is a powerful tool both for teaching students about simulation techniques as well as providing deeper understanding of some courses contents such as networking, operating systems, operational research, just to name a few. Simulation is a well-known technique for evaluation of what-if scenarios for decision making in industry, defense, finance, and many others.

Teaching simulation techniques may require creativity in assigning problems to students. Real word examples often excite students and motivate them focusing on their learning objectives. Further, it challenges them to develop models to reflect the reality. Clear examples can teach students how to collect data, develop base model, improve it to advanced models, analyze the obtained results, and think about usability of their simulation results. These learning outcomes can clearly demonstrate valuable educational objectives.

This paper, presents an example where a group of students were assigned to develop a simulation model for the BGSU Students Union (BTSU) Cafeteria. Managing a university cafeteria often exhibits challenges for the food services located in the cafeteria. One challenge regards waiting times. This study was focused on reducing the average waiting time of the diners in the queues, while increasing overall efficiency of the food services.

The popularity of each food station, measured in number diners visiting that food-station, was first observed. Then the arrival rate of the customers and the number of workers were recorded. Based on the collected data, several scenarios were developed to assess the system. The simulation result suggests that adding food-servers to the top 3 most visited food stations can dramatically reduce the overall waiting time. In addition, offering special deals, could further improve the result.

Rajaei, H., & Khakzad, R. (2017, June), A Real-World Example for Student Learning: BTSU Cafeteria Simulation Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27505

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