"Ducky" Operations Management
Who says attending summer classes is boring? Not the 52 MIS undergraduate students who recently completed Katherine Carl’s MIS 373 Introduction to Operations Management class!
Katherine, an MIS Graduate Research Associate, decided to spice things up a bit and give her students a hands-on experience that would help demonstrate the theory and concepts of operations management.
MIS373 Students (left to right) Randy Lough, Sarah Ahmed, Ashia Ahmed, Anita Adjei, Yan Huang, Mike Chang.
“One of the key issues of operations management is the design and selection of process. How can we minimize the time needed to produce a product? When creating a standardized product using a repetitive process, how can we balance an assembly line to ensure smooth production?
To answer these questions of efficiency, our class assembled duck cupcakes. Using the instructions outlined by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson in their popular book What’s New Cupcake? as a guide, we determined the processes and materials needed to produce sixty cupcakes in an assembly line and worked for half an hour to meet our goal.”
The students were divided into assembly/process groups. They timed each process from the start to the arrival of the product at the next assembly station. The longest part of the activity? Covering all components with yellow frosting.
During assembly, students felt the pressure of completing sixty cupcakes in the shortest amount of time possible. “We need more frosting!” they cried. “The donut hole department needs to be more careful with the Starbursts!” They quickly found that some processes needed more staff and attention to detail than others.
When production was complete, the students had the opportunity to write about their experience and provide insight as to how their process design could have been improved. They used a line balancing algorithm to determine the best configuration of each process in assembly and calculated the balance delay and efficiency of production. Overall, the students and Katherine both enjoyed the activity and felt they benefitted from the challenge of designing the process firsthand.
(in seconds per cupcake)
|A - Frost base with white frosting||6||none|
|B – Unwrap the Starburst||3||none|
|C – Place Starburst in donut hole||8||A,B|
|D – Place donut on cupcake||2||C|
|E – Cut marshmallow in half||7||none|
|F – Place marshmallow on cupcake||3||D,E|
|G – Frost with yellow frosting||45||F|
|H – Place Reese’s eyes on cupcake||15||G|
Yellow cupcakes (duck base), donut holes (duck head), large marshmallows (duck tail), Reese’s Pieces (duck eyes), Starburst fruit chews (duck beak), yellow and white icing, plastic knives and gloves.
|What Student's Say...|
|"The cupcake activity was a unique and interactive experience. Not only was it enjoyable, but I learnt the importance of communication, quality, and having the right process in operations management. It is not often that experiences like this one are extended to us, so I would like to thank the Katherine and the MIS department for sharing this experience with me and my peers."|
|"When I read the textbook for the first time, many of the concpets seemed obscure and/or mundane. But after being able to physically apply them in class I was a lot more comfortable with the material, and I did very well on that week's exam. I now feel comfortable enough with the material so that I can apply it outside of class. The duck cupcake project was a fun and educational. I feel very lucky to have taken a course where I could actually taste the fruits of my own labor. The project [and class in general] was, well, really sweet!"|
The above materials were purchased through the MIS Research and Teaching Fund.
Help Katherine and other MIS faculty provide quality hands-on classroom experiences to students by contributing to the MIS Research and Teaching Fund. Thank you!