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Engineering Economy: The Crossroads of Business, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Engineering Economy Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Economy

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Paul C. Lynch Penn State University Erie, The Behrend College

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Paul C. Lynch received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. degrees in Industrial Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Lynch is a member of AFS, SME, IIE, and ASEE. Dr. Lynch’s primary research interests are in metal casting, manufacturing systems, and engineering education. Dr. Lynch has been recognized by Alpha Pi Mu, IIE, and the Pennsylvania State University for his scholarship, teaching, and advising. He received the Outstanding Industrial Engineering Faculty Award in 2011, 2013, and 2015, the Penn State Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering Alumni Faculty Appreciation Award in 2013, and the Outstanding Advising Award in the College of Engineering in 2014 for his work in undergraduate education at Penn State. Dr. Lynch worked as a regional production engineer for Universal Forest Products prior to pursuing his graduate degrees. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering in the School of Engineering at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

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Joseph Wilck United States Air Force Academy

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Dr. Joe Wilck is an Assistant Professor of Operations Research at the United States Air Force Academy. He is a registered Professional Engineer. He is a volunteer leader with the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). He is also an active member of INFORMS, MORS, INCOSE, and TRB. His research is in the areas of applied optimization and engineering education, and he has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, DARPA, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation; among others. He primarily teaches courses in analytics, operations research, supply chain, and logistics.

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Omar Ashour Pennsylvania State University Erie, The Behrend College Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Omar Ashour is Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering at Pennsylvania State University, The Behrend College. Dr. Ashour received the B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering/Manufacturing Engineering and the M.S. degree in Industrial Engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) in 2005 and 2007, respectively. He received his M.Eng. degree in Industrial Engineering/Human Factors and Ergonomics and the Ph.D. degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from Pennsylvania State University (PSU) in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Dr. Ashour's research areas include applied decision making and simulation. He contributed to research directed to improve engineering education.

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Engineering economy is at the center of each and every business decision made in today’s fast paced business world. Whether it be a rate of return analysis, payback analysis, net present worth analysis or a host of other engineering economic analyses, the ultimate decision to fund an engineering project, merger, or acquisition comes down to using the basic principles learned in engineering economy.

Company executives from the likes of Alcoa, ADT, and Armstrong that serve on the Industrial & Professional Advisory Council (IPAC) and a Service Enterprise Engineering Advisory Board (SEE) at a large public U.S. University, expressed the need for the engineering economy class and its curriculum to serve as the crossroads between business, engineering, and entrepreneurship. The executives saw that one of the biggest deficiencies in young engineers entering their companies was the lack of a general knowledge of important business skills.

After collecting this feedback from the corporate executives it was evident that every engineering student should be exposed to financial accounting topics. In addition, students should be exposed to business planning, financial statements and financial ratio analysis with special emphasis on understanding how engineering project decisions impact company financial statements.

This current paper discusses how an engineering economy course and the evolution of its curriculum became the center of a growing student group known as the Business and Engineering Group “B.E.G.” This group is now part of the National Organization for Business and Engineering (NOBE). The first year in existence for this student group was the 2013-2014 school year. The group had 24 paid members. During the 2014-2015 school year, the group grew to over 70 paid members. The executive board members of B.E.G. are the financial advisers for a stock portfolio case study in the new and improved engineering economy course. The B.E.G. executive board members are also actively involved with the company case study competition in this engineering economy course. All of the executive board members have taken the engineering economy course and have internship and/or co-op experience.

The engineering economy group has spawned a group of ten student consultants working with local startup businesses to offer process improvement consultancy. This paper will discuss the entrepreneurship and business consulting opportunities created at multiple campus locations. The engineering economy course and the principles taught in the course are at the center of these initiatives in an attempt to "re-ignite" the local economy around these campuses

The evolution of the engineering economy curriculum and the innovative work being completed by the student group received special recognition by the National Organization for Business and Engineering (NOBE). As a result of the work completed in the engineering economy course and the success of the student group, the student chapter being discussed was selected as the host for the 2016 National Conference for NOBE.

Data collected from students completing the engineering economy course and from corporate representatives sponsoring a case event in the course will be presented. After the curriculum changes were made, 99% of the students (104 out of 105) said the engineering economy course did a good job of teaching them the importance of understanding how engineering decisions impact financial statements and the bottom line of the company.

At this large, public U.S. University, all engineering students were required to take an introductory microeconomics or macroeconomics course. For many, an introductory economics course is thought to be at the crossroads of business, engineering, and entrepreneurship. All 105 students polled said that the engineering economy course was more valuable than the economics course(s) they previously completed. In fact, 93.3% of the students (98 out of 105) felt as though every student (non-engineering and engineering) should take a course like this engineering economy course. Over 87% of the students (92 out of 105) said they felt as though a course like the engineering economy course would be a good course to offer as a General Education course available to all students.


Lynch, P. C., & Wilck, J., & Ashour, O. (2016, June), Engineering Economy: The Crossroads of Business, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26642

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