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Curriculum Element: Economic Analysis Group Project Using VoiceThread

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Engineering Economy Division Technical Session

Tagged Division

Engineering Economy

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Paper Authors


Kellie Grasman Missouri University of Science and Technology

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Kellie Grasman serves as an instructor in Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. She holds graduate degrees in engineering and business administration from the University of Michigan, and began teaching in 2001 after spending several years in industry positions. She was named the 2011-2012 Robert B. Koplar Professor of Engineering Management for her achievements in online learning. She serves as an eMentor for the University of Missouri System and earned a Faculty Achievement Award for teaching.

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Curriculum Element: Economic Analysis Group Project using VoiceThread


The main objective of this project is to provide students with the skills necessary to 1) evaluate project(s) using a systematic economic analysis technique, 2) support their recommended alternative with data, and 3) convey their recommendation in a professional manner. This project allows students to practice these skills in a real life situation.


Within the project, student teams analyze a project using a structured Systematic Economic Analysis Technique (7 steps) as a framework. The steps are outlined below: 1. Identify the investment alternatives: Students consider at least two alternative options, possibly including the do-nothing alternative as well. Each alternative should be presented in detail so the audience understands each choice. 2. Define the planning horizon: The period of time over which to analyze the alternatives should be stated, with justification for this choice. 3. Specify the discount rate: MARR should be clearly stated with justification for this choice. 4. Estimate the cash flows: Estimates of cash flows should be detailed for each alternative. Cash flows should be presented in both table and graph form. All assumptions should be clearly stated and sources of data should be noted for each value. This is a SIGNIFICANT portion of the analysis. 5. Compare the alternatives: At least two methods should be used to compare the alternatives, with results presented for each. 6. Perform supplementary analyses: Analyze each alternative to determine which variable/cash flow category is most sensitive. Clearly state conditions under which your project decision would change. 7. Select the preferred alternative: The preferred alternative should be chosen based on the economic criteria from the course. However, often many other considerations may be important. Does this project have strategic impact that outweighs the economic considerations? Students must defend their alternative and support their recommended choice.


The project may be implemented in a traditional classroom setting with in-person meetings and in-class presentations. However, this instructor has had great success implementing in online courses using collaboration software. Neither the instructor nor student team members need to be in the same physical location for the project to be executed successfully.

Students complete the project in small teams, and submit the final deliverable via a web tool called VoiceThread. VoiceThread is uniquely suited for remote group presentations, and also allows for detailed instructor feedback, in written, audio or video form, within the deliverable.

The project is submitted in phases to allow for detailed instructor feedback and refinement. Students practice the application of fundamental concepts introduced in traditional classroom and homework problem-solving to a real engineering economic analysis scenario.


The complete curriculum element, in the form of a detailed project description divided into phased deliverables, will be provided. Additionally, detailed grading rubrics and sample submissions in digital format will be shared for reference.

Grasman, K. (2021, July), Curriculum Element: Economic Analysis Group Project Using VoiceThread Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36891

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