Introducing Changemaking Engineering into an Operations Research Course: Some Unexpected Results

Rick Olson, Andrés Esteban Acero López

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


With funding from a National Science Foundation (NSF) IUSE/PFE REvolutionizing engineering and computer science Departments (RED) grant, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering at the University of San Diego is working to produce and disseminate a model for redefining the engineering education canon with the goal of developing "Changemaking Engineers." One of the strategies for achieving this goal is to infuse traditional engineering classes with new materials that address this changemaking theme. The goal is for students to develop the same fundamental skills that they currently acquire, but to see better how these skills can be applied to problems and situations that don't appear in traditional textbooks. This greater perspective will encourage some students to pursue non-traditional career paths, and other to practice with greater awareness of the impact of engineering on society. In Fall 2017, changemaking engineering was introduced into the required deterministic operations research (OR) course taken by industrial and systems engineers at our university. Some changemaking elements were added to lectures, and the authors created a series of assignments that asked the students to think about the nexus of changemaking and operations research. Through this exercise, we learned that some assumptions about the student perspectives of changemaking, and even operations research were wrong. Some students considered any change, good or bad, to constitute changemaking. And students had many difficulties identifying problems where OR could be applied and conflated OR with other areas of engineering practice. This has caused us to rethink whether the course empowers students in the ways that it is intended to, and to propose restructuring the course for future offerings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


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