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Using “Real World” Problems In Engineering Economy

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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

What's New in Engineering Economy

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1439.1 - 10.1439.6



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Paper Authors

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H. Jean Russo

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Joseph Hartman

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

Session 2639

Using “Real World” Problems in Engineering Economy Joseph C. Hartman, M. Jean Russo Lehigh University

Abstract We have previously reported on the use of supplementary materials, such as The Wall Street Journal, in engineering economy teaching environments. Specifically, we used newspaper articles as the basis for classroom discussions and open-ended exam problems. The students were generally receptive as they saw how engineering economics could be applied to real problems. In this paper, we outline an experiment to determine whether “real world” problems can be substituted for traditional “plug and chug” problems in homework and quiz environments. Our hypothesis is that students will prefer to study and answer problems set in reality. However, we concede that this approach may not help, and may even inhibit, the learning of engineering economy topics as students may “miss” the underlying theory covered in the question. We describe our experiment in detail and present preliminary findings available at the time of printing. The full results of the experiment will be presented at the conference as the class is being taught in the Spring of 2005.

1. Introduction

Going to school and studying engineering is often characterized as being difficult (and sometimes boring), especially in the first few years of coursework. This is because engineering and technology majors take courses in science (physics, chemistry), mathematics (linear algebra, calculus, differential equations), computing, and economics (economics, engineering economy). In these courses, students are generally taught methods and are not exposed to the applications of these methods until later in their education. Unfortunately, it is difficult to motivate students when they do not see how their work applies to the real world [1].

We have previously reported on the use of The Wall Street Journal [2], among other media sources, in the classroom in order to motivate students and improve the learning environment for students in engineering economy. This paper describes an experiment performed in the Spring of 2005 to compare the use of traditional ``plug and chug’’ type problems with those motivated from real world occurrences. We believe that students will have a greater appreciation for the problems being analyzed if they are presented in this realistic setting. However, we concede that this setting may distract students from learning the intended content of the problems.

This paper details the experiment performed in the Spring of 2005. The class consists of roughly 50 junior class Industrial Engineers, although there are a few other majors in the class. We present initial findings and will disseminate the complete results at the conference.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright • 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Russo, H. J., & Hartman, J. (2005, June), Using “Real World” Problems In Engineering Economy Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14752

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