Teaching Simulation to Graduate Students Using ProModel Products and Real-World Problems

ProModel Guest Blogger:  Larry Fulton, Ph.D. & MSStat – Assistant Professor of Health Organization Management at Texas Tech University Rawls College of Business.  After serving 25 years in military medicine, Dr. Fulton began a second career in teaching and research.

Larry Fulton, Ph.D. & MSStat

Larry Fulton, Ph.D. & MSStat

Teaching introductory Monte Carlo, Discrete Event, and Continuous simulation to business graduate students requires at least two components beyond a good set of reference materials:   realistic or real-world problems and an excellent modeling platform allowing for relatively rapid development.  In the case discussed here, the real-world scenarios derived from interests and background of the professor and students (portfolio analysis, sustainability, and military medicine), while ProModel products addressed the platform requirements. Each of the case study  scenarios served to underscore various simulation building elements, while ProModel supported rapid  product development for a 14-week, lab-intensive course that included some  reviews of probability, statistics, queuing, and                                                    stochastic processes.

Scenario 1:  Monte Carlo Simulation (Portfolio Analysis)

Business students generally have an affinity for portfolio analysis, and I do as well. Using ProModel  features, one of the earliest student projects involves fitting univariate distributions to return rates to several funds and simulating results of investment decisions of various time horizons.  Students discuss methods that might account for covariance as well as autoregressive components in these simulations.  While developing the simulations, students also determine sample size requirements to bracket mean return on investment within a specified margin of error and confidence interval and use random numbers seeds.

Scenario 2:  Continuous Simulation using Rainwater Harvesting

Students in this course are generally from a semi-arid region (Central Texas), which has significant water shortages (so much so that desalinization is being considered.)  I rely 100% on rainwater harvesting for my home water supply, so extending this to each student’s particular home location is trivial. The “Tank Submodule” provides an easy mechanism for developing the simulations.  Students develop conceptual models of rainwater mechanism as well as flowcharts.  They gather rainfall data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regarding rainfall and evaluate various roof sizes (capture space), demand figures based on occupants, and tank sizes. They also learn about the importance of order statistics (the distribution of the minimum in the tank) versus measures of central tendency that often dominate discussions of simulation. Finally, they incorporate tools and techniques to improve and assess V&V.

­­­Scenario 3:  Discrete Event Simulation using Military Scenarios

While serving as the Chief of Operations Research Branch for the Center for Army Medical Department Strategic Studies, I encouraged the use of MedModel for multiple DES projects.  The team built strategic models (resource constrained and unconstrained) for analyzing medical requirements for strategic operations. These same models serve as a basis for a team-based MedModel student capstone project.  The primary entity for these models was the patient with attributes of severity, injury type, and evacuation type.  The primary processes involved collection, treatment and evacuation. Resources included ground ambulances, air ambulances, medics, intensive care units, and operating rooms.   Locations were geographic locations throughout the entire of Afghanistan.  Evacuation paths were built, and treatment logic (triage, ground evacuation, air evacuation, etc.) provided the flow.

Bottom Line:  The ProModel products are outstanding for use in both teaching and industry.

 Larry Fulton Bio:

http://www.depts.ttu.edu/rawlsbusiness/people/faculty/hom/larry-fulton/

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