Introducing Engineering Concepts with Microsoft Excel – UA06-RET

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Introducing Engineering Concepts with Microsoft Excel – UA06-RET

This project introduces IE concepts in to Middle School students using Microsoft Office Excel


National Science Foundation

Research Team:

Edward A. Pohl, Melissa Miller , C. Richard Cassady

Universities Involved:

University of Arkansas

Start Date:


End Date:



This project aims to give Middle School students basic understanding of engineering logistics and the management of supply chains and maintenance by using Microsoft Excel to provide the technical support in completing the data analysis portion of the project.
The 2005 Summer RET program at the University of Arkansas provided an opportunity to conduct research regarding the use of Microsoft Excel to introduce industrial engineering concepts to middle school students. Emphasis was placed on learning some Excel basics, then using this acquired knowledge to make some marketing decisions through the use of materials that would provide high interest for this age of student. The students made a study on the different flavors of Skittles out of a regular Skittles package.
The materials developed are intended to help students acquire fundamental problem solving capabilities as well as a basic understanding of some tools used in Industrial Engineering and logistics. This project was completed under the leadership of two mentoring professors: Dr. Richard Cassady and Dr. Ed Pohl, who provided guidance and also secured funding necessary to support the implementation of the curriculum into the public schools by providing the necessary supplies through the support of Dr. John English, center director at the University of Arkansas.
The students were taught about different ways to display data and how to compute mean, median, mode, and range, we began collecting data for the Skittles project. The students were able to use data correctly and make accurate analysis of the data they collected. This real-world application made the project appealing to the students as well as to their parents. One parent in particular requested a copy of her daughter’s letter to place in a scrapbook they were keeping!