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Learning Across Disciplines: A Case Study Approach To Teaching Engineering Economics And Business Policy

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Integrating Taxes, Law, & Business

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.845.1 - 9.845.9

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Paper Authors

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Jeannette Russ

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

Session 1339

Learning across Disciplines: A Case-study Approach to Teaching Engineering Economics and Business Policy Jeannette H. Russ and William R. Nance, Jr. Union University


For engineering students in disciplines other than industrial engineering, the required engineering economy course is sometimes considered to be uninteresting or even irrelevant. In an attempt to increase the appeal of our economics course, we have successfully introduced two elements. First, we build a large portion of the course around a case study that requires a simple product design, a manufacturing plan, and a marketing plan – all of which must meet a tight time schedule and a specified budget. Second, we require our engineering students to work with marketing and accounting students from a business policy class, creating a multi-disciplinary team with the task of developing a solution that is technically feasible, financially viable, and appealing to the target market.

This course structure exposes students to problem-solving techniques in real-world situations, while also providing a natural platform for relevant classroom discussions. In terms of real- world exposure, the case study is based upon events that occurred in the writing instrument industry during the World War II era, giving students an opportunity to investigate real companies, real decisions, and even real failures. After completion of the project, the students can compare their solution to the historical one and speculate upon how events could have been different. Another aspect of the course that simulates the real world is its cross-disciplinary nature, which introduces students to the challenges of developing a solution that simultaneously satisfies criteria in several different areas. In terms of classroom discussions, the World War II setting provides an excellent foundation, since many modern industrial engineering practices have roots in that era. To build upon this foundation, students are required to present intermediate progress reports related to specific issues. Preparation for these checkpoints provides a logical framework for classroom discussions centered on economic issues related to product design and manufacturing.

Our initial experience with the case-study approach has resulted in positive feedback from the eight students and two professors directly involved with the project, as well as others in the engineering and business departments who participated indirectly. This paper outlines the details of our approach, including a brief description of our case study, an overview of project goals, the logistics of making project assignments and relating them to the overall course, an assessment of the project’s effectiveness, and ideas for future improvement.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Russ, J. (2004, June), Learning Across Disciplines: A Case Study Approach To Teaching Engineering Economics And Business Policy Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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