by Oliver Hedgepeth, PhD
Engineering management has been hijacked by COVID-19 and not just the few months remaining in 2020. For the EM teacher, the student, and the practical practitioner, some of the rules of the game are gone. The learning objectives from the teacher’s courses need modification. The engineering economic analysis methods from such authors as Ted Eschenbach, Don Newman, and Jerome Lavelle are still the foundation of our ability to make sense of data. But, a few more new problems need to be added. Plus, one new chapter. The practical practitioner already knows what is missing from their set of tools for project management, Six Sigma analysis, every tool in their EM toolbox.
What is suspect is the data is awry; all that primary and secondary data that was so easy to collect, and so much fun to watch being made by faulty machines and faulty people. This new social distancing and wearing of coronavirus PPE impacts data collection. Workers are not at work or, if they are, the number is sparse, maybe only 25%. Cameras are recording manufacturing processes. Artificial intelligence and robotics are replacing humans in 2020 and planning for 2021 faster than ever. Humans are dying and the living ones are teaching and meeting by Zoom or other virtual reality systems. Live streaming social media communications has become common to include our very own ASEM meetings, still under way for viability.
Many businesses because of this 2020 pandemic, such as restaurants, are broken, according to Danny Meyer, one of New York City's restaurateurs. In mid-March, he closed all 20 of his restaurants and laid off nearly 2,100 employees. He stands by his belief that the restaurant business as we know it is gone. He is asking all of us to rethink what the term “restaurant” means for 2021 and beyond. What kinds of data are important and how do you collect such data? How can you, as an EM, as an analyst, help him define that term? What other businesses are undergoing redefinition and in need of our assistance?
Robots are becoming cooks in restaurants from colleges to hamburger joints. Colleges have programs and courses and apprentices for students to understand how robots will be working with them in the future.
For you– teachers, students and practical practitioners –ask how you know you can collect good data, or visualize process behavior, or avoid the man-made chaos. Identify those new assumptions needed to solve our current economic analysis problems, and redefine what deseasonalizing data means in this pandemic and economic crisis.
We need to be discussing these emerging issues at our online ASEM 2020 International Webinar Series and the upcoming ASEM 2020 International Annual Conference and 41st Annual Meeting.
A new normal in teaching has become weaponized by a different kind of social media and human factors experience. We need to be wary of what students need. Practitioners, help!
Are you listening? See this short video for more: https://youtu.be/rbETVpBy_38
About the Author
Dr. Oliver Hedgepeth is a full-time professor at American Public University (APU). He was program director of three academic programs: Reverse Logistics Management, Transportation and Logistics Management, and Government Contracting. He was Chair of the Logistics Department at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Dr. Hedgepeth was the founding Director of the Army’s Artificial Intelligence Center for Logistics from 1985 to 1990, Fort Lee, Virginia. His PhD in Engineering Management is from Old Dominion University.