Engineering a Virtual Hospital


Arkansas students, grades 6 through 12, met on April 12 at the University of Arkansas campus in Engineering Hall for the eighth annual IE Challenge, a competition that encourages students to explore industrial engineering concepts through hands-on activities.

The project supplied a downloadable interactive hospital game that required students to design the facility layout, hire the necessary staff, and keep incoming patients happy with drink machines, benches and radiators for heat, all while diagnosing them and directing them to the correct treatment room. The goal was to create and maintain an efficient hospital. The students’ hospital finances, reputation, happiness of the patients, cure rate and death rate were tracked by the game.

Initially each team was tasked to submit an entry paper describing how industrial engineering concepts were used to create the optimal hospital with high ratings. The top 10 teams were then asked to present their results during the live competition on April 12th. Students from across the state, in groups of two, presented their data results and reasoning behind their design during the competition. A panel of engineering graduate students served as judges for the presentation.

The Junior Division winners were:

1st Place – Miller Herndon and Molly Kingston; Brittany Berry – sponsor;
Helen Tyson Middle School, Springdale

2nd Place – Allison Hellard and Claire Luther: James Miller – sponsor;
Randall G. Lynch Middle School, Farmington

3rd Place – Braxton Sanders and Fernando Juarez; Millicent Anderson – sponsor;
Henderson Magnet School, Little Rock

The Senior Division winners were:

1st Place – Sean Daniels and Michael McCants; Kim Austin – sponsor;
Greenbrier High School, Greenbrier

2nd Place – Nelson Graves and Matt Jones; Linda Shott – sponsor;
Pottsville Junior High School, Pottsville

3rd Place – Connor Thompson and Jonathan Crank; Kim Austin – sponsor;
Greenbrier High School, Greenbrier

The IE Challenge was organized by Melissa Miller, a sixth-grade science teacher at Lynch Middle School in Farmington, and Randall Reynolds, an eighth-grade math teacher at Gravette Junior High. These teachers are participating in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Teachers program, which supports K-12 teachers in pursuing science and engineering research.

Miller and Reynolds’ research project, which focuses on getting students interested in industrial engineering, is supported by the University of Arkansas industrial engineering department and the Center for Excellence in Logistics and Distribution via a Research Experience for Teachers grant from the National Science Foundation. The teachers worked under the guidance of industrial engineering professor Ed Pohl.


Karin Alvarado, CELDi Program Coordinator
Industrial Engineering

Release date: April 17, 2014