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Cadetsim: A System Dynamic Simulation Of Cadet Life At The United States Air Force Academy

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Learning & Teaching Issues

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.280.1 - 9.280.8



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Paper Authors

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Barlow D. Neal

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Jason Bartolomei

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CadetSIM: A System Dynamic Simulation of Cadet Life at the United States Air Force Academy

J. E. Bartolomei, D. N. Barlow

United States Air Force USAF Academy CO 80840 (719) 333-3379

Abstract: Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy face one of the most challenging academic experiences available. In addition to taking a heavy load of courses, they are required to participate in athletic and military training activities. Additionally, many choose to pursue significant involvement in military leadership, airmanship programs, or intercollegiate athletics. Time pressure for these cadets is intense, leading in many cases to lower academic performance than cadets are capable of demonstrating. Many struggle to learn effective time management in this environment. Leaders at the Academy have been evaluating how to potentially reduce the time pressure to improve the end result for graduates. This paper presents the development of a dynamic system simulation, called CadetSIM, that can assist cadets with time management decisions and that can provide insight to institutional decision-makers.

The environment at the U.S. Air Force Academy was analyzed at the system level in terms of time requirements. System design and analysis tools were used to structure a model of the cadet time environment. Tools included brainstorming, system architecting, and the construction of a System Dynamic Matrix. Causal relationships stemming from procrastination were incorporated. Due to transient time requirements and system feedback from procrastination, a dynamic system simulation was chosen as the preferred method to analyze system behavior. A commercial software package, STELLA®, was used to create the final product.

The results of this work produced CadetSIM, a continuous-time dynamic system simulation of cadet time requirements over the course of a semester. CadetSIM’s tailored input interface allows the user to create a particular cadet profile to simulate. Output from the simulation shows the user how time expenditure for academics, athletics, military training, sleep, maintenance functions, and discretionary activities will dynamically interact through the semester.

A profile for a typical cadet majoring in engineering is analyzed and presented in this paper. Results show that this cadet has very little discretionary time and experiences periodic sleep deprivation. Most interestingly, we find that with increased procrastination discretionary time and possibly sleep will decrease to maintain a desired level of performance.

CadetSIM will allow a cadet to evaluate the future impact of decisions about activities and study behavior. CadetSIM can help institutional decision makers better understand the dynamic

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

D. Neal, B., & Bartolomei, J. (2004, June), Cadetsim: A System Dynamic Simulation Of Cadet Life At The United States Air Force Academy Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13834

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