During his career as a professor at the Institute of Technology’s School of Industrial Production Engineering in Costa Rica (TEC), Federico Picado has seen many changes in teaching methods—especially when it comes to statistics. One of the most significant is the utilization of three Minitab products: Quality Companion, Quality Trainer, and Minitab Statistical Software.
As a teacher of statistical quality control, reliability engineering, and DOE, Picado appreciates the products’ role in the classroom. “Minitab products save time, which allows us to focus on analyzing the problem and discussing the results. It changes everything,” he says. “Students can learn with Minitab and bring that knowledge with them to the workplace.”
After seeing a presentation on Quality Companion—Minitab’s process improvement software—and subsequently using it to manage his own work, Picado incorporated this software into his courses. In his statistical quality control class, students visit a business and then use the software for quality improvement projects in a real-world setting. For example, they utilize Quality Companion’s process mapping, FMEA, and Value Stream Map tools to execute the various stages of the project.
To supplement students’ academic progress, Quality Trainer—Minitab’s e-learning course on quality statistics—is not only used for undergraduate class quizzes to test their knowledge. It is also used to help time-pressed graduate students, many of whom are already working in the manufacturing industry, to quickly refresh their knowledge of statistical topics such as hypothesis testing. “We use Quality Trainer to close the gap, and students love its graphics and how easy it is to use,” says Picado.
But Minitab’s role in improving teaching techniques at the university doesn’t stop there. Picado uses the Assistant menu in Minitab Statistical Software—a tool that leads users through an analysis from start to finish—to help class members learn to solve problems by applying methods such as ANOVA, hypothesis testing, measurement system analysis, and more. “Minitab’s versatility and ease of use allowed me to understand and analyze different problems and cases in several courses,” says Angelica Maria Fernandez Vargas, an industrial production engineering student.
Picado even plans to use the Assistant’s DOE tool to help students learn to conduct screening experiments—a tool designed specifically with commercial engineers in mind, and one many students won’t encounter until they need to use it on the job.
By involving them in research projects that provide real-world experience and utilize real-world software, the university helps prepare students to take on a variety of jobs after they graduate. One such project is e-Bridge, which uses data analysis to assess the structure and reliability performance of bridges to help the government determine when it needs to intervene and repair or replace them.
Picado’s participation in this project and his connections with students who have been successful since graduating have convinced him of the value of students’ knowing how to use Minitab when they prepare to enter the work force. His former students agree.
“Minitab played a major role in my courses and allowed me to study more details in problem solving cases,” says Diana Brenes Ramirez, an industrial production engineering graduate of TEC. “Now, as a professional, it is important to my job and contributes to my ability to deliver reliable results.”
Costa Rica Institute of Technology