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Time to Transition: Financial Calculators and Clickers in the Classroom

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Engineering Economy Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Economy

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1527.1 - 22.1527.10



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Paper Authors


Gillian M. Nicholls University of Alabama, Huntsville

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Gillian Nicholls is an Assistant Professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering & Engineering Management and a 2009 - 2010 Gray Faculty Fellow at the University of Alabama, Huntsville. Her research interests are in applying statistical analysis and optimization to supply chain management, transportation management, and engineering education. She holds the B.S. in Industrial Engineering (Lehigh University), Masters in Business Administration (Pennsylvania State University), M.S. in Industrial Engineering (University of Pittsburgh.), and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering (University of Pittsburgh).

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Neal Lewis University of Bridgeport

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Dr. Neal Lewis received his Ph.D. in engineering management in 2004 and B.S. in chemical engineering in 1974 from the University of Missouri, Rolla, and his M.B.A. in 2000 from the University of New Haven. He is an associate professor in the School of Engineering at the University of Bridgeport. He has over 25 years of industrial experience, having worked at Procter & Gamble and Bayer. Prior to UB, he has taught at UMR, UNH, and Marshall University.

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Paul J. Componation University of Alabama, Huntsville

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Dr. Paul Componation is a Systems Engineering Professor at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. He earned his Ph.D. and B.S. in Industrial Engineering from West Virginia University, and his M.S. in Management from Troy State University. Dr. Componation’s primary research focus is in complex system development. He is a Fellow with the American Society for Engineering Management, a Senior Member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, a member of the International Council on Systems Engineering and a member of the American Society for Engineering Management.

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Ted Eschenbach University of Alaska, Anchorage

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Dr. Ted Eschenbach, P.E. is the principal of TGE Consulting, an emeritus professor of engineering management at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and the founding editor emeritus of the Engineering Management Journal. He is the author or coauthor of over 200 publications and presentations, including 15 books. With his coauthors he has won best paper awards at ASEE, ASEM, ASCE, & IIE conferences, and the 2009 Grant award for the best article in The Engineering Economist. He earned his B.S. from Purdue in 1971, his doctorate in industrial engineering from Stanford University in 1975, and his masters in civil engineering from UAA in 1999.

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Time to Transition: Financial Calculators and Clickers in the ClassroomThe compound interest tables are a primary teaching tool in the engineering economicsclassroom. These tables were created nearly a century ago as a time savings device whencalculations were done by hand. Over the past century, slide rules replaced much of thehand calculations, and scientific calculators replaced slide rules in the 1970s. Financialcalculators were introduced in the 1970s, personal computers were widely adopted in the1980s, and laptops became prevalent in the 1990s. Yet we still teach using compoundinterest tables as we did decades ago. The largest change has been the role ofspreadsheets.Similarly, within the last several decades we’ve added PowerPoint and on-line study aids,yet many of us have left the lecture relatively unchanged. The display may have shiftedfrom blackboards, to overhead transparencies, and to computer projectors; but the lecturestructure is often largely unchanged. The last decade has seen the deployment of lowcost student response units, and when used these “clickers” can radically change whathappens in a lecture period.This paper explores the advantages and disadvantages of using financial calculators andclickers in the classroom, along with some of the debate that has appeared in ourliterature over the past few years. The reasons for current views are explored, and severaloptions that have been tested in the classroom are described. We recommend that it istime for all of us to begin the transition away from reliance on tables, and use the modernelectronic tools that new engineers are expected to have already mastered while in school.

Nicholls, G. M., & Lewis, N., & Componation, P. J., & Eschenbach, T. (2011, June), Time to Transition: Financial Calculators and Clickers in the Classroom Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18596

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