By Karson Stone
graduate student in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
Our Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) hosted its first Governor’s School throughout June 2018. Over the course of four weeks, students were exposed to subjects relating to manufacturing, transportation, supply chain, and healthcare through lectures, labs, field trips, and guest speakers from industry.
“Teaching these students about ISE is more than just teaching them technical concepts,” said Karson Stone, a teaching assistant for the class. “Teaching ISE is about sharing a culture of improvement by using engineering tools.”
The students, upcoming juniors and seniors from high schools across the state, learned to solve complex logistical problems used in industry. They solved a traveling-salesman problem with 500,000 answer combinations, created their own methodology for assembling an electrical box, and found the optimal stocking and reorder points for a Knoxville food vendor. However, before the class started, some had never heard of industrial engineering.
“I didn’t sign up for this class because I wanted to be an industrial engineer. I didn’t even know what an industrial engineer really was until the first day of class,” said one student. “I signed up for this class because, out of all the classes that were offered, this one seemed like the most interesting and I figured it would be interesting to learn about something new … and I’m glad I chose ISE.”
The students also experienced the mechanics of an injection molding manufacturer, a behind-the-scenes tour of the McGee Tyson Airport while planes arrived and departed, a way-below-freezing storage system at a snack distribution center, a look at the fastest supercomputer in the world, and a medical research lab with hospital dummies that could breathe and blink.
The ISE class also partnered with the Material Science Governor’s School class for poster sessions, lab tours, and a video project collaboration.
As a group, students analyzed scientific aspects of the movie The Martian. Questions included “What is a radioisotope thermoelectric generator?” and “How would you optimize a trip to every major site on Mars?”
At the end of the month, students created research posters based on subjects learned in and out of the classroom that they later presented to the rest of the Governor’s School as well as their parents.
The general consensus from the students?
ISE has changed their outlook entirely. Whether it’s using what they learned in class to select the optimal route home or to select their future college, the program taught them to think like an engineer. One student even explained, “Since taking this class, I’ve altered my college dreams to include ISE in my future!”
Students that participated in the Governor’s School for Science and Engineering stayed in Orange Hall, a new residence hall on campus, and participated in evening and weekend activities throughout the month, including whitewater rafting, a trip to the Knoxville Zoo, and even a UT prom.
The future seems bright for these students as well as the ISE Governor’s School program.