Thursday, June 26, 2008 - 11:10 AM
Federal Room B (Capital Hilton)

Students Game to Learn about Green Supply Chains

Jacqueline A. Isaacs, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

The desire to address complex technological and social issues in an engaged manner inspired the development of a prototype board game created to raise the awareness of environmental issues in engineering. Over the past decade, both massively multiplayer games and simulation games have reached new levels of sophistication and retained enormous mainstream audiences. Developments in digital technology allow new opportunities to engage students in collaborative and active learning. Designed for in-class play by undergraduate and graduate engineering students as well as business students, the computer game is based on team competition of companies in the automobile supply chain, with the objectives set to achieve the highest profit and lowest environmental detriment.

The game is played using stakeholders in the manufacturing supply chain in the automotive industry. Six students create a team of three suppliers: materials, parts, and cars. Within this team, two students take on roles for each of the three companies in the supply chain. Within the ten rounds in the game, each company within the supply chain takes its turn to invest and select among different technologies in three areas for each company: production, storage and waste disposal. There are tradeoffs in investment costs and green values for each technology option, and there is a hierarchy to the innovation options available for each turn. The students work within their team and budget to try to create the most profitable and green supply chain. Successful game strategy requires both cooperation and competition for players to succeed.

Student learn facts along multiple dimensions, including: the history of environmentally benign technologies over the past decades; environmental policies and legislation that influence manufacturing in the global economy; current business strategies and technologies used in industry to address environmental burdens; tradeoffs among economic and environmental policies that influence technology; and team-based decision-making.

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