Pitt | Swanson Engineering
Karen Bursic Wins Grant Award for Best Paper in The Engineering Economist
Karen Bursic, associate professor of industrial engineering and undergraduate program director at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering

PITTSBURGH (March 29, 2021) — Many fundamental engineering subjects, like statics and dynamics, heat and energy, signals and systems, and statistics, have reliable methods for measuring students’ learning. Engineering economy, which uses economic principles to evaluate engineering decisions, has not traditionally been among them, despite its importance to the curriculum.

The Engineering Economist recently published an article by Karen Bursic, associate professor of industrial engineering and undergraduate program director at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, that evaluates a concept inventory to determine students’ learning in engineering economy courses. The article, “An Engineering Economy Concept Inventory,” (doi: 10.1080/0013791X.2020.1777360), was recently awarded the Grant Award, an award given annually by the Engineering Economy Division of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

“With all the changes in engineering education, like flipped classrooms or problem-based learning, it’s especially important to have an unbiased, targeted assessment tool to make sure students are learning important core concepts,” said Bursic. “The Engineering Economy Concept Inventory I have developed can help instructors understand whether the pedagogical changes they make to their course have been effective.”

Bursic teaches the Engineering Economics Analysis course at Pitt, a course that introduces engineering undergrads to concepts like cost estimation, interest rate calculations, depreciation, and economic equivalence concepts. 

“These skills are critical for the effective application of engineering skills in the real world,” said Bursic. “While decision makers are often confident in the technical solutions that engineers provide, they almost always will ask whether benefits outweigh costs or which of several alternatives is least costly.”

The Grant Award, named for Eugene L. Grant, is awarded for the best paper published in The Engineering Economist. Grant was a professor of economics of engineering at Stanford University whose primary objective, both in the several textbooks he penned and his classroom lectures, was to help students develop practical skills for solving real world problems. 

Papers considered for the Grant Award are evaluated on originality, importance of the problem they address, logic and clarity, and adequacy of the proposed solution. The Award includes a cash prize of $1000.

Bursic will receive the Award at the ASEE conference in Long Beach, Calif. on July 28, 2021. 

Maggie Pavlick, 3/29/2021

Contact: Maggie Pavlick