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Using A Delphi Study To Define A Curriculum For Service Systems Engineering

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Programs II

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1395.1 - 10.1395.10



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Drummer

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James Frendewey

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Sheryl Sorby

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Kris Mattila

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John Sutherland

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Leonard Bohmann

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

Development of a Curriculum for Service Systems Engineering Using a Delphi Technique Sheryl A. Sorby, Leonard J. Bohmann, Thomas D. Drummer, James O. Frendewey, Kris G. Mattila, John W. Sutherland Michigan Technological University


The U.S. economy has gradually changed from one based in agriculture, to one focused on manufacturing, to one now that relies heavily on the service sector. The service sector, including governmental agencies, retail stores, the entertainment business, public utilities, and providers of similar services, now makes up more than 80% of the total U.S. economy. Engineering programs, which typically have their roots in the era of manufacturing, have a focus on the design and fabrication of “products” rather than the design and creation of service systems. While curricula such as engineering management and industrial engineering provide some support to service systems engineering, their legacies are tied to the manufacturing sector, and as a result, they are not optimized to support the service sector. With this in mind, a Delphi Study was performed to identify the features, characteristics, and topics relevant to a service systems engineering curriculum. This paper describes the planning, conduct, and results of the service systems engineering Delphi Study and how this information is being used to establish a new degree program.


The modern-day engineering profession has its origin in the 14th century when individuals such as Leonardo daVinci were hired to design better weapons or better defenses, depending on the client.3 Early engineers were engaged in the art of war – building better roads, bridges, and sanitation systems. Soon, the civilian population demanded luxuries such as those afforded the army, giving birth to civil engineering. With the dawn of the Industrial Age, mechanical engineering evolved to feed the need for individuals who could design and build efficient steam- powered machinery. Electrical and chemical engineering soon followed as the standard of living continued to improve in the developed world. Engineering disciplines have continuously evolved throughout history, giving birth to disciplines such as biomedical, computer, and aerospace. Throughout its long history, however, the engineering profession has been clearly focused on designing better devices, mechanisms, objects, and the processes used to realize these articles.

At the same time the engineering profession evolved to meet the needs of society, the economic basis for society also changed dramatically, due in large part to the technological advances that were developed. Two hundred years ago, the economy was primarily based on agricultural production. Manufacturing superceded agriculture in terms of size, employment, and importance during the twentieth century. Today’s economy is based largely upon the service sector, with the service sector now accounting for nearly 80% of all economic activity in the U.S., far “Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Drummer, T., & Frendewey, J., & Sorby, S., & Mattila, K., & Sutherland, J., & Bohmann, L. (2005, June), Using A Delphi Study To Define A Curriculum For Service Systems Engineering Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15369

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