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Use of Buzzwords in Industrial Engineering Education

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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

IE Technical Session I

Tagged Division

Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1587.1 - 22.1587.11



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Paper Authors


Abhijit Gosavi Missouri University of Science & Technology

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Abhijit Gosavi obtained a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the University of South Florida in 1999. He has an MTech and BE, both in Mechanical Engineering, from IIT Madras and Jadavpur University, respectively. He joined as an Assistant Professor in the engineering management and systems engineering department at Missouri University of Science & Technology (S&T) in 2008. His research interests are in simulation-based optimization, production management, and industrial engineering education.

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Jane M. Fraser Colorado State University, Pueblo

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Jane M. Fraser is chair of the Department of Engineering at Colorado State University, Pueblo.
She was formerly on the faculty at the Ohio State University and Purdue University. She has a
B.A. in mathematics from Swarthmore College and M.S. and Ph.D. in industrial engineering and
operations research from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Use of Buzzwords in Industrial Engineering EducationBuzzwords have been used in the content of numerous industrial engineering courses for severalyears now. Buzzwords have a finite life, which can last from five to ten years or even more.Many buzzwords that are popular today were not in existence a decade or two ago, whilebuzzwords that were popular about twenty years back are not in use anymore. Some buzzwordsthat are currently popular are lean, supply chain management, cellular manufacturing, and quickresponse manufacturing. Some buzzwords that were popular in the 1980s but are less popularnow include total quality management, flexible manufacturing, and group technology. Whilesome educators wholeheartedly embrace the buzzword of the day, some refuse to use them,insisting on sticking to the basics of the science. Many adopt a middle path which means usingthem but only occasionally. The use of buzzwords in teaching raises numerous questions. Arebuzzwords unique to our profession, i.e., industrial engineering? Does a new buzzword inindustrial engineering fundamentally alter the content of what we teach or should teach in ourcourses? In this paper, we will first attempt to answer questions such as the ones posed above. Webelieve that answering such questions and studying these issues can significantly benefit ourcommunity. Coming up with these answers may also help an instructor uncertain of whether theuse of buzzwords is appropriate in teaching. We will make every attempt to develop an objectiveunderstanding of the numerous issues surrounding this topic. In particular, we will characterize the roots and origins of several buzzwords that arebeing used or have been used in industrial engineering. Thereafter, we will study whether theiruse has impacted industrial engineering education. We will also examine some commonly usedwebsites to determine how important the knowledge of buzzwords is for potential employers ofindustrial engineering graduates. We will evaluate industrial engineering textbooks that usebuzzwords liberally and those that refrain from using them although their subject matter isconducive to their usage. Finally, we will attempt to determine whether buzzwords confusestudents or help them gain a clear vision of industrial engineering. Based on our analysis, wewill formulate our own recommendations for use of buzzwords in industrial engineeringcurriculum. While we have used the word “buzzword” we realize that this word has emotiveovertones, and we continue to search for a replacement.

Gosavi, A., & Fraser, J. M. (2011, June), Use of Buzzwords in Industrial Engineering Education Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18738

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