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Integrating Engineering Systems Research and Undergraduate Education through a Term-length Case Study

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Research Projects, Course Development, and Industry Issues

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.797.1 - 25.797.11



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Paper Authors


Travis P, Dunn Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Travis Dunn is a 2010 graduate of the MIT interdepartmental Ph.D. program in transportation. He is currently a Research Affiliate at MIT and a Partner in D'Artagnan Consulting, LLP.

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Joseph M. Sussman Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Joseph M. Sussman is the JR East Professor (endowed by the East Japan Railway Company) in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Engineering Systems Division at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he has served as a faculty member for 43 years. He is the author of Introduction to Transportation Systems, a graduate text published in 2000, in use at a number of universities in the U.S. and abroad. His book Perspectives on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) was published in 2005. Sussman received the Roy W. Crum Distinguished Service Award from TRB, its highest honor, “for significant contributions to research” in 2001, and the CUTC Award for Distinguished Contribution to University Transportation Education and Research from the Council of University Transportation Centers in 2003. In 2002, ITS Massachusetts named its annual “Joseph M. Sussman Leadership Award” in his honor. He became a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007. In 2008, he won the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the School of Engineering Alumni of the City College of New York.

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Naomi E. G. Stein Massachusetts Institute of Technology


David Louis Uniman Steer Davies Gleave

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David Louis Uniman is a Transportation Engineer and Urban Planner with a dual master's from MIT and a B.Sc. in industrial engineering and operations research from UC, Berkeley. His international experience includes projects in the USA, Mexico, England, Panama, and Colombia. He currently works as a Senior Consultant for Steer Davies Gleave in Bogotá, Colombia.

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Integrating Engineering Systems Research and Undergraduate Education Through A Term-Length Case StudyThe University-Country Program (UCP)* was launched in 2007 with the dual objectives ofsupporting and generating innovative research and academic programs through internationalcollaboration. Among the first successful attempts to integrate the research and teachingobjectives of the UCP was the Spring 2009 offering Engineering System Design, a requireddesign course in the University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering for juniorsand seniors. The course employed a semester-long case study, drawing heavily on active UCPtransportation and engineering systems research as the guiding framework.On the research side, University has been engaged with partner universities and agencies inCountry on several topics relating to rail transportation, specifically the concept of high-speedrail (HSR). Collaborative research topics have included life-cycle costing for rail systems,construction safety, tunneling techniques, rail financing, demand and revenue forecasting,passenger-freight integration, multi-modal competition and cooperation, strategic systemdecision-making, and economic and land development impacts at the urban and megaregionscales. These varied research efforts demand a unifying engineering systems framework to tietogether the pieces and ensure that the research delivered provides maximal value bothindividually and as part of a broader program. The integrating engineering systems frameworkchosen was the Complex, Large-Scale, Interconnected, Open, Socio-technical (CLIOS) Process.The Spring 2009 offering represented the first opportunity to teach and conduct the CLIOSProcess in an undergraduate classroom setting and did so using an active research program as thecase study for application of the CLIOS Process. After presenting the UCP and HSR researchcontexts, this paper summarizes the methodology used to implement the CLIOS Process in aclassroom setting through an evolving, term-length group project that involved teaching andsupervision by active researchers. Next, the paper discusses the challenges of teachingengineering systems concepts to undergraduates, incorporating active research into a classroomsetting, and managing a complex multi-faceted term project. Finally, the paper summarizes thesuccesses and lessons learned of the experience as well as prospects for future applications ofengineering systems research in the classroom.* “University” and “Country” are terms substituted for the actual names of the university andcountry participating in this program, so as to disguise affiliations for purposes of the double-blind review process.

Dunn, T. P., & Sussman, J. M., & Stein, N. E. G., & Uniman, D. L. (2012, June), Integrating Engineering Systems Research and Undergraduate Education through a Term-length Case Study Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21554

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