The University of Maine: Solving Real-World Problems with Statistics and Minitab®


Darrell W. Donahue, professor of chemical and biological engineering, has been teaching Statistical Process Control and Analysis at the University of Maine for over a decade. In fact, because the course is required for several engineering majors at the university, Donahue has taught it for 21 consecutive semesters—trusting Minitab Statistical Software to help him highlight the use of statistics to solve real-world problems.

Donahue particularly appreciates Minitab’s ease of use and effective demonstration capabilities in the classroom. "I can go over something like hypothesis testing, in a theoretical sense, and then at the end of the class I can show a quick example in Minitab using a project file."

Donahue says his students like the intuitive feel of Minitab and points out that its Help options—the tutorials, Help menu, and StatGuide—make the software easy to use and understand. Donahue also appreciates the competitive educational discounts that Minitab offers and finds it beneficial that his students can easily obtain copies of the software from

In addition to using Minitab to help students learn how to solve a variety of problems with statistics, Donahue sometimes enlists outside sources such as Minitab’s Paul Sheehy, a graduate of the University of Maine’s engineering program who has industrial and Six Sigma experience.

Donahue likes the fact that these guest speakers can give his students current examples of how to use statistics to get effective real-world results. In one recent example, students learned how plaintiffs used Minitab analysis as substantiating evidence in a lawsuit trial against a fraudulent milk provider. "Examples like this highlight my emphasis on how to apply statistics in the real world and drive the point home about the use of statistics in everyday situations," Donahue says.

The bottom line?

Darrell Donahue trusts Minitab to help him achieve his teaching goals. "Minitab gives me an efficient and effective way, in the classroom, to illustrate practical applications of industrial statistics to students from a wide range of engineering majors."

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