Surviving a zombie apocalypse

Students in Ivan G. Guardiola’s Operations Research course learned to survive a zombie apocalypse while learning the fundamentals of managing global supply chains and large-scale industrial operations.

To help students better learn the basics of the course, Guardiola, an associate professor of engineering management and systems engineering, designed a zombie doomsday case study. His results were published in the journal Quality Approaches in Higher Education.

Guardiola’s course manual, titled “Zombie Apocalypse: Optimizing Survival,” outlines an evolving story that begins with a zombie invasion of the Missouri S&T campus. The 21 students enrolled in the course are the only known survivors. They take refuge in the campus’s student center, while some 450 living dead approach their enclave. The manual guides students through a series of situations and options that require them to determine the best choices for their own and their classmates’ survival.

“I wanted students to understand that their decisions have consequences,” he says. “Operations research is all about optimization. The whole class is about understanding the techniques of optimization. This was the perfect project for helping to teach those principles.”

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