Caterpillar’s Supply Chain Game Enlivens ISyE Freshman Class

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For the first time, undergraduate students in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) participated in Caterpillar’s supply chain simulation game, during Professor Chen Zhou’s IE freshman seminar class.  This IE freshman seminar course is designed to help students in their transition to Georgia Tech and their understanding of the concepts taught in the Stewart School of ISyE.

For Zhou, the game is an opportunity to make teaching more innovative and an ideal way to get the students engaged in their studies.

“The game gives students a chance to see how what they learn in the course can be beneficial for improving the efficiency in production systems.  Nothing is more stimulating than being directly involved in the action and seeing its impact,” said Zhou.

The game incorporates Caterpillar’s guiding principles into the classroom focusing on manufacturing engineering and supply chain logistics, demonstrating the benefits of proper inventory management, business flow, and the importance of meeting customers’ needs.  By exposing students to the complex objectives and constraints involved in a manufacturing process, such as responsiveness to customer demand and removal of waste, the game provides the students with a very practical hands-on approach to some ISyE concepts. 

“These games give students a glance at what a future in industrial engineering would be like in a real world setting.” said Troy Watson, Caterpillar engineer and game facilitator.

The students found the game to be both beneficial and enjoyable.

“The supply chain activity was a real-life application of one of the fundamental concepts of industrial engineering deficiency. I learned what works and what doesn't work in assembly lines, and how to eliminate wastes to save time, energy, and money during production. Above all, I learned that the customers' desires are the most important thing, behind safety,” said Emily Russell, an ISyE undergraduate student in Zhou’s class.

Caterpillar has been involved on the Georgia Tech campus for several years, but this is the first time the simulation game has been integrated into an ISyE classroom.  

With several manufacturing facilities opening in the South, Caterpillar has increased its recruiting efforts at Georgia Tech over the last few years, targeting ISyE students for various positions such as those in supply chain logistics and manufacturing. Caterpillar utilizes the CPS game to better engage with freshman ISyE students. 

Additional feedback from the class:

“After playing this game, I walked away feeling more ready and more eager to become an industrial engineer," said Keri Strucher.

“This game really gave me a better understanding of what ISyE is all about. I learned so much about my major during this game and I can see how this can apply to real life on a much bigger scale,” said Erin Kelly.

“The game was a really great experience for me because I needed to see the application of what we are learning in the classroom. Now I am much more confident in my ability to continue in my major and eventually begin my career in industrial engineering," said Mackenzie Sloan.

“Even though I'm a first year student at Georgia Tech, playing the supply chain game with Caterpillar made me feel like an employed engineer for an hour!” said Erin Lightfoot.

“Fun. Entertaining. Educational. I wish every class was like that!” said Leon Heimer.


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