Engineering an Amusement Park: Roller Coaster Tycoon 3

IE Challenge participants and sponsors
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IE Challenge participants and sponsors

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – On Saturday, April 11, Arkansas students, grades 6th through 12th, met at the University of Arkansas campus in John A. White Jr. Engineering Hall for the ninth annual IE Challenge, a competition that encourages students to explore industrial engineering concepts through hands-on activities.

In the competition, students work in teams of two to explore engineering concepts using an amusement park simulation game called Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. The students worked through the scenarios with a focus on park layout, queuing structures, personnel, and customer satisfaction. 

Initially each team was tasked to play through the game then submit an entry paper describing how industrial engineering concepts were used to create the optimal amusement park with high ratings. The top 10 teams were then asked to present their results during the live competition on April 11. Students from across the state, in groups of two, presented their data results and reasoning behind their design during the competition. A panel of industrial engineering graduate students served as judges for the presentations.

The Junior Division winners were:

  • 1st Place – Nathan Hudson and Kyle Hudson; Linda Shott, sponsor; Pottsville Junior High, Pottsville
  • 2nd Place – Emma Gregory and Sabrina Jones: Linda Shott, sponsor; Pottsville Junior High, Pottsville
  • 3rd Place – Cheyenne Lucas & Kaelyn Pearson; Linda Shott, sponsor; Pottsville Junior High, Pottsville

The Senior Division winners were:

  • 1st Place – Connor Thompson and Jesse Carnahan; Kim Austin, sponsor; Greenbrier High School, Greenbrier
  • 2nd Place – Jiaqi "Alex" Wang and Tony Wang; Patrick Foley, sponsor; Little Rock Central high School, Little Rock
  • 3rd Place – Jordan Martin and Ryan Gillis; Annette Smith, sponsor; Mansfield High School, Mansfield

The IE Challenge was organized by Melissa Miller, a sixth-grade science teacher at Lynch Middle School in Farmington and Randall Reynolds, an eighth-grade math teacher at Gravette Junior High. These teachers are participating in the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Teachers program, which supports K-12 teachers in pursuing science and engineering research. Miller and Reynolds' research project, which focuses on getting students interested in industrial engineering, is supported by the University of Arkansas College of Engineering and the industrial engineering department through the Center for Excellence in Logistics and Distribution (CELDi). The teachers worked under the guidance of industrial engineering professor Ed Pohl.


Karin Alvarado, CELDi Program coordinator
Industrial Engineering


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