January 11, 2016
Last November, Texas A&M University assistant professor Alaa Elwany, used our Soda Pop Game in his operations management class. The Soda Pop Game simulator helps practice the concepts of inventory management, process analysis, and service level.
Professor Elwany acquired his Ph.D. in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and has worked in the same engineering department at Texas A&M University since 2013.
We want to share the interview we had with Professor Elwany:
What are today’s major difficulties regarding teaching?
Students are disconnected from reality. It is easy to teach them how to implement an EOQ formula or derive an optimal (Q, R) policy, but it’s hard to make them appreciate that decision making, in reality, is rarely limited to just implementing a formula or an algorithm.
Also, it’s hard to make students be aware that decisions “interact” together, for example, your inventory decision regarding raw material will impact your decision regarding production capacity. These decisions cannot be considered in isolation and it is a challenge to explain this effectively to students.
I included the Soda Pop Game in my class to overcome these challenges, even though I had never previously used a simulator with my students.
While you were playing the game, what was the most relevant change that you observed in your students?
The biggest change during the game was that they became more appreciative of how difficult decision making in real-world settings can be. I got comments like “Oh! So, that is why we need to know how to optimize inventory!!”
Do you think games are an effective tool for learning purposes?
In my opinion, they are not just effective, they are rather essential.