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Industrial Engineering Live! Classroom Lab Activities Used In An Introductory Ie Course And In Recruiting Freshmen

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

IE Enrollment/Curriculum Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.756.1 - 10.756.14



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Paper Authors

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Susan Freeman

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

Industrial Engineering LIVE! Classroom Lab Activities used in an Introductory IE Course and in Recruiting Freshmen

Dr. Susan F. Freeman College Of Engineering, Northeastern University


Introduction to Industrial Engineering Courses provide an overview of IE history and common methods that are used by Industrial Engineers to analyze systems and design efficient processes. A series of active labs are integrated into a traditional course where the students are introduced to concepts, apply solution techniques for those concepts with class and homework problems, and then perform labs. These labs were developed to make the topics come alive for Sophomore Industrial Engineers who are still trying to understand their chosen field and have not had their first co-op or IE job. The labs can be done in the classroom with a minimal amount of purchased equipment; some activities only require a trip to the grocery store. These lab activities were also adapted for use in Open Houses and Freshmen Forums to interactively illustrate to first-year engineering students what IE might look like. These and other recruitment activities have more than doubled the enrollment of the IE program at Northeastern University in the last 5 years.


In a course entitled Introduction to Industrial Engineering at Northeastern University, a broad range of topics is covered quickly, and students can rapidly learn by seeing and doing. Typically, Industrial Engineers don’t have chemicals, machining labs, wind tunnels or circuit boards to use in specialized laboratories. The goal in this course was to find a way to include hands-on activities without a formal lab component or facility. These labs are designed to integrate the concepts with models that are memorable. Some of the topics covered by the labs are Process Improvement, Work Measurement, Facility Layout, Assembly Line Balancing (Manufacturing and Production Control), Bin Packing (Material Handling), Human Factors, Operations Research, Engineering Economy, Queueing, and Quality Control. The students generally work in groups, do the lab work, gather data, share class data, and write individual or group lab reports. Some of the labs are computer labs, where they use software tools (mostly Excel) to solve several types of problems. Verbal and written feedback from the students shows that they enjoyed the lab activities, but more importantly, that they felt like many of the concepts finally made sense or “sunk in” after they had seen it in action, even if the labs are only models that represent real working situations.

Only 3% of the first-year engineering students declare themselves as Industrial Engineering majors as they enter the University, yet 9% of the same class are Industrial Engineers as sophomores. If asked, most first-year students have little information about what Industrial Engineering involves or what an IE’s role in the engineering world is. In their first-year course

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright©, American Society for Engineering Education

Freeman, S. (2005, June), Industrial Engineering Live! Classroom Lab Activities Used In An Introductory Ie Course And In Recruiting Freshmen Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14518

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