I.E. Challenge Tests Local Students' Roller Coaster Design Skills

 On Saturday, April 23, Arkansas students in 6th through 12th grade brought their amusement park designs to the University of Arkansas for the IE Challenge, a competition that encourages students to explore industrial engineering concepts through hands-on activities. The students presented research projects, which were based on the virtual amusement park game, Roller Coaster Tycoon. After that, they had 45 minutes to build an amusement park, using this game and the strategies they have developed in their projects.

A panel of University of Arkansas industrial engineering students judged the teams and awarded prizes. In the senior division, the Roller Controllers from Farmington High School took first place. The Coaster Rockers from Gravette Middle School placed first in the junior division.

“The winning teams both had very high quality entry papers,” explained Melissa Miller, one of the organizers of the Challenge. “They used the rubrics provided on the IE Challenge website to put together an entry paper that addressed industrial engineering concepts and were able to fully explain the decisions they made that were based upon these concepts.”

“This project has given me the ability to connect eighth grade math and where students are going to be when they get to the university,” explained Reynolds. “It’s given me the ability to see where the students are heading, talk about these things and give them the building blocks to get there.”

The IE Challenge was organized by 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. Their research project, which focuses on getting students interested in industrial engineering, is supported by the Center for Excellence in Logistics and Distribution (CELDi). CELDi is a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center within the Department of Industrial Engineering. The Department helps sponsor the event along with the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas.

Release date: 5/25/2011