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Greening The Supply Chain: Development Of A Computer Game To Teach Environmentally Benign Manufacturing

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma in Manufacturing Education 1

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Page Count


Page Numbers

13.654.1 - 13.654.13



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Paper Authors


Jacqueline Isaacs Northeastern University

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JACQUELINE A. ISAACS is an Associate Director of the Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing and an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. Her research focuses on economic and environmental assessment of manufacturing. Initial development of Shortfall resulted from her CAREER grant funded by the National Science Foundation (DMI-9734054), and subsequent NSF funding (DMI-0537056) to continue its development.

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Jay Laird Metaversal Studios

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JAY LAIRD is Assistant Director of Game Design Programs at Northeastern University. He teaches multimedia courses and develops curricula for both the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. His research focuses on creating new forms of educational and social engagement through games. He is the Lead Game Designer at Metaversal Studios, a game company founded by NU alumni and faculty, which frequently collaborates on Northeastern University projects.

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Seth Sivak Carnegie Mellon University

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SETH SIVAK is currently a research assistant at Carnegie Mellon University pursuing a Master of Entertainment Technology degree at the Entertainment Technology Center. He earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering at Northeastern University in 2007.

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Mark Sivak Northeastern University

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MARK SIVAK is currently a research assistant at Northeastern University pursuing a M.S. degree in mechanical engineering at the Mechatronics and Robotics Laboratory. His research is in virtual reality and feedback control for rehabilitation devices. He earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering at Northeastern University in 2007.

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

Greening the Supply Chain: Development of a Computer Game to Teach Environmentally Benign Manufacturing Abstract Over the past decade, both massively multiplayer games and simulation games have reached new levels of sophistication and retained enormous mainstream audiences. Developments in digital technology allow new opportunities to engage students in collaborative and active learning. The desire to address complex technological and social issues in an engaged manner inspired the development of a prototype board game created to raise the awareness of environmental issues in engineering. Designed for in-class play by undergraduate and graduate engineering students as well as business students, the game structure is based on team competition of companies in the automobile supply chain; the game objectives are to achieve the highest profit and to achieve the lowest environmental detriment. A new interdisciplinary project funded by NSF has extended the development of the board game to create and assess a networked computer game.

The game is played using stakeholders in the manufacturing supply chain in the automotive industry. In its current non-networked version, six students create a team of three suppliers: materials, parts, and cars. Within this team, two students take on roles for each of the three companies in the supply chain. During each round in the game, each company within the supply chain takes its turn to invest and select among different technologies in three areas for each company: production, storage and waste disposal. There are tradeoffs in investment costs and green values for each technology option, and there is a hierarchy to the innovation options available for each turn. The students work within their team and budget (and within ten rounds of the game) to try to create the most profitable and green supply chain. Students compete with other supply chain teams. Successful game strategy requires both cooperation and competition for players to succeed.

1. Background

This work is based upon development of a board game, entitled Shortfall (previously reported [1-3]), which simulates a simplified supply chain for automobile production. The goal and challenge of playing Shortfall is to learn to maximize profit while minimizing environmental impact. The auto industry manufacturing supply chain allows exploration of relationships among design considerations, supply chain management, environmental issues, research and development, and profitability. Instead of using a lecture format for green manufacturing case studies, the concept of participative group game play is being tested and evaluated for successful learning outcomes. Although the supply chain is simplified, students can experience the ramification of technology selection and processing decisions through a unique educational format.

Initial play tests with the prototype board game appeared to be somewhat overwhelming to understand quickly for many players; after two rounds, players were up to speed, but the game ended after four rounds. There were several boards, dozens of game pieces, work sheets, innovation cards and current event cards. It was necessary to streamline and simplify the game

Isaacs, J., & Laird, J., & Sivak, S., & Sivak, M. (2008, June), Greening The Supply Chain: Development Of A Computer Game To Teach Environmentally Benign Manufacturing Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3866

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