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Minding The Big Picture: Using Discrete Event Process Simulation As A Problem Solving Tool For Students

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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

Critical issues in IT and IET: Focus Group

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.880.1 - 14.880.13



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Paper Authors


Susan Scachitti Purdue University, Calumet

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Susan Scachitti is a Professor of Industrial Engineering Technology at Purdue University Calumet. Professor Scachitti consults and teaches in traditional areas of Industrial Engineering including Quality Management and organizational change, Six Sigma methodologies, methods engineering, Lean thinking, facility layout, process improvement, and ergonomics. Prior to working in education, she spent ten years in various engineering and supervisory roles in the telecommunications industry which focused on high volume electronics manufacturing. Her industry accomplishments included implementation of Total Quality principles including Lean Manufacturing concepts, Demand Flow Technology, and self-directed work teams.

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Juan Salinas Purdue University, Calumet


Deepthi Karanam Purdue University, Calumet

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Deepthi Karanam is a graduate student in the School of Technology at Purdue University Calumet where she is pursuing a Master of Science in Technology degree. She received her Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani in India. She has research and industry experience in the areas of supply chain management, cost of poor quality, RFID, simulation and modeling.

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

Minding the Big Picture: Using Discrete Event Process Simulation as a Problem Solving Tool for Students


As competition drives organizations to practice continuous improvement efforts such as lean manufacturing, value analysis and global supply chain initiatives, experience with process simulation software (a key technological tool for process improvement) can offer an advantage to engineering technology graduates as they pursue employment opportunities.

This paper will focus on one university’s efforts to incorporate real world simulation experiences into a facility design course. The instructor’s real world experience with using a cost effective and user friendly simulation package to design, build and start-up a $110 million manufacturing facility were used to develop applicable classroom exercises to achieve appropriate student learning outcomes. Exercises reflect lessons learned in real world applications to incorporate facility support efforts such as process flow optimization and staffing level determinations as well as basic layout issues. Examples of exercises with intended learning outcomes will also be included.


Process simulation software has proven itself to be a key problem solving tool in developing value minded graduates of engineering technology programs. Whether students find employment in manufacturing, healthcare or service industries, they will all be faced with decision making and problem solving involving increasingly complex systems and rapidly changing technology. With this in mind, theoretical concepts such as queuing theory, regression analysis, takt time calculations, as well as other traditional work flow analysis and process improvement concepts become more and more difficult for students to grasp and apply within a classroom setting. Engineering technology students, specifically those focused in industrial and manufacturing engineering technology programs, need access to hands-on support tools for analyzing the effects that their localized changes are likely to have on the big picture system. Incorporating discrete event process simulation models into routine class assignments is one way of achieving this expanded skill set for students, or, as stated by Dr. Stephens, an Industrial Technology Professor, “… in an educational setting, computer simulation can be used to add a life-like dimension when difficult and abstract models are studied.” (1)

Simulation is being increasingly recognized as a useful and practical technique, especially in giving a realistic view of the system under study. Different scenarios can be analyzed in order to investigate which configuration is the best to meet the objective. (2) Traditional theoretical teaching methods teach engineering technology students the basics for problem solving. When used accordingly, simulation can enhance a student’s problem solving skills. For this reason, experience with discrete event process simulation software, often associated with the Industrial Engineering Technology (IET) or Manufacturing Engineering Technology (MfET) disciplines, provides graduates with a unique and marketable skill. Unfortunately, as with most engineering technology curriculum, there is often little opportunity to add an additional course dedicated to

Scachitti, S., & Salinas, J., & Karanam, D. (2009, June), Minding The Big Picture: Using Discrete Event Process Simulation As A Problem Solving Tool For Students Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5143

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