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Case Studies Under Your Nose: Using Campus Projects as Case Studies for Engineering Economy

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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

Engineering Economy Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Engineering Economy

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Engineering economic analysis has many practical applications in all types of organizations. Higher Education has been criticized by politicians, current students, and former students paying off their steep student loans because of the steep rise in cost. As academic institutions look for more ways to save money, these become good case studies for students in engineering economy. Most campus personnel, whether teaching or other staff like sharing their expertise with students. Using projects actually being analyzed as cost reductions at the university not only allows students to calculate financial benefits in real life scenarios, but also allows students to tour and see real equipment, like HVAC units and electrical controls that are being updated to reduce cost. In these case studies, they can integrate the physical engineering processes and financial engineering analysis after they have a chance to see real projects under evaluation on campus.

Purpose (Hypothesis)

Engineering students like to see equipment and tour processes. Universities house many of these ‘engineer studied processes’ whether it is efficiency in food production/distribution for the dorms (ISE), energy consumed by buildings (ME), or lighting controls (EE). Further, in today’s financially conscious universities, there are staff working on ways to make them more efficient to reduce their cost by implementing cost savings projects. Many higher education presidents acknowledge that waste exists and are issuing challenges to their organizations to reduce cost driving the need for change. In return, the organizations are finding capital projects to upgrade systems to reduce cost. Showing these projects to students, allowing them to tour the places on campus that are behind the scenes while understanding some of the real world challenges is a great opportunity to allow students to understand the application of their textbook education. Assigning student to case study the financial aspects of these projects seems like a triple win for the students, the university staff, and the learning objectives of engineering economy. The objective of this research is to understand the validity of this hypothesis.


At a large Midwest university, students currently participate in these type case studies in their engineering economy course. A survey will be administered to students completing campus based case studies to determine the effectiveness of this method as well as determine what can be done to improve the teaching method for future courses.


The results of this research on student perceptions will be shared with ASEE and further improvements will be made in the course.

(2017, June), Case Studies Under Your Nose: Using Campus Projects as Case Studies for Engineering Economy Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio.

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