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Green Issues In A Factory: Student Perceptions

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Applying What We Teach to IE Education

Tagged Division

Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.659.1 - 14.659.10



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Paper Authors


Lawrence Whitman Wichita State University

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Lawrence E. Whitman is the Director of Engineering Education for the College of Engineering and an Associate Professor of Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering at Wichita State University. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oklahoma State University. His Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Arlington is in Industrial Engineering. He also has 10 years experience in the aerospace industry. His research interests are in enterprise engineering, engineering education and lean manufacturing.

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Janet Twomey Wichita State University

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Janet Twomey is a Professor in the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department at Wichita State University. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in modeling and simulation, neural networks, sustainability, and probability and statistics. Dr. Twomey’s current research is in sustainable systems.

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Barbara Chaparro Wichita State University

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Barbara S. Chaparro has a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Texas Tech University and a B.S. in Psychology from University of Richmond, VA. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and director of the Software Usability Research Lab at Wichita State University. Her research interests include human-computer interaction, usability evaluation methods, and onscreen reading.

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Veronica Hinkle Wichita State University

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Veronica D. Hinkle has an M.A. in Anthropology. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Human Factors Psychology at Wichita State University. Her research interests include human-computer interaction, qualitative and quantitative methodology, and user-centered interface design.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


In order to meet the ABET requirements for sustainability, the environment must be considered. However, most students do not consider how decisions made when running a factory can impact the environment. Understanding these cause-and-effect relationships is key to evaluating and designing a production system. This paper presents a short overview of a simulation-based project useful for Production Systems/Operations Management courses. The simulation is flexible to cover basic course content as well as recent industry trends involving sustainability issues and the lean enterprise. It proves challenging for instructors to present these topics in a convincing manner to students, because many of these concepts, such as one-piece flow and reusable containers, are counterintuitive to traditional manufacturing logic. This paper presents the project itself, describes the application of modern production systems and the integration of environmental issues, and concludes with results from a (pre and post) survey of student perceptions of green issues in the factory and student ability to synthesize course concepts after the project is complete.

Introduction and Motivation

Students seldom consider environmental issues when applying course concepts. Students typically think that green issues are beyond the scope of their classes. Many students today want to do something to positively impact the environment, but believe that the only impact they can make is on a personal level. This is also true of industrial engineering students. They do not consider that how they act and the decisions they make can impact the environment. Introducing previously foreign concepts such as sustainability and environmental issues can be much more effective when complemented with a computer simulation. Simulation allows students to make decisions in dynamic real-world environments. The output from the simulation allows the student to evaluate the impacts of decisions and make necessary adjustments while learning new problem solving strategies. The manufacturing environment provides an excellent application of computer simulation. The complexity, uncertainty, and interdependencies of a factory are hard to convey from a textbook alone. Therefore, faculty use simulation to enhance their teaching effectiveness.

Studies show that the use of computer simulation can complement and improve traditional textbook methods. In addition to teaching concepts and theories presented in the textbooks, simulation can also stimulate group interaction and enable critical thinking, decision-making, and problem solving. A study by Gokhale1 shows that students remember only 10% of what they read and 20% of what they hear. However, students remember 90% of what they learn from simulation. The study goes on to suggest that properly designed and implemented computer simulations could revolutionize education. Results show that “…effective integration of computer simulation into traditional lecture-lab activities enhances the performance of the students”1. Student feedback from simulation projects indicates that they appreciate the relationship between real-world and course concepts, as well as the complexity of the decision- making process2.

Whitman, L., & Twomey, J., & Chaparro, B., & Hinkle, V. (2009, June), Green Issues In A Factory: Student Perceptions Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5026

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