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As part of the MAA Session on Teaching Operations Research in the Undergraduate Classroom, Rob Williams (Alfred University) gave two examples of projects that he uses in his class at Alfred. The course is a one-semester introduction to operations research; students are junior or senior majors in mathematics, computer science, or engineering. In the first project, students are asked to act as consultants to a company which is reviewing its purchasing schedule. The students' final product is a report to the company with analysis and recommendations, and is graded with equal weight to mathematics and to presentation. The second project requires students to develop a machine-scheduling algorithm. In this case, the final product is the algorithm. Students submit a short report on the algorithm and are asked to apply it in class to a particular set of jobs.
Williams said that both projects are designed to help students appreciate the subject of operations research and provide them the opportunity to use techniques outside the text.
Examples of Team Projects That Work was presented at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Phoenix, Arizona, on January 7, 2004.
--- Mike Breen, AMS Public Awareness Officer