Industrial engineering students excel in simulation competition

Published: Feb 3, 2022 2:28 PM

By Carla Nelson

Three industrial and systems engineering graduate students were recently recognized for outstanding projects in the biannual Simio Student Competition. Paul Longenecker won first place in the competition, while students Julia Bitencourt and Michail Katsigiannis placed in the Honorable Mention category.

Simio is a simulation software leader in the academic and commercial community. Jeff Smith, the Joe W. Forehand, Jr. Professor of industrial and systems engineering, encourages students to participate in the competition. Graduate students enrolled in the Discrete Event Simulation course must complete a project each semester and the Simio competition is an option.

“What the company does is takes a real, commercial simulation project and re-casts it and makes the data non-proprietary,” Smith explained. “The objective is to give the students a realistic project. If you went out into the simulation world after graduating from school, this is the kind of project that you would do.”

Longenecker’s project, which included between 90-100 hours of work, involved stochastic modeling of a new urgent care center to determine facility layout and staff scheduling, which balances the cost of operation and patient satisfaction.

“I took a system engineering approach toward the model development, which included defining non-formal requirements, verification and validation,” he said. “This effort included analyzing 60,000 data points from a related urgent care center to understand the distributions of patient arrivals, patient conditions and treatment times. Using this historical data and an estimated patient demographic for the new facility, a discrete event simulation, modeled in Simio software, was created. This allowed me to simulate the day-to-day activities at the urgent care center and iteratively optimize staffing and facilities until final recommendations could confidently be provided to the stakeholders.”

Longenecker added that Smith was integral to the success of the project.

“His course on Discrete Event Simulation is tuition well spent and provided me the tools required to execute a successful project,” he said. “The lessons learned can also be extended to other areas of my academic and professional careers.”

Smith said all of the students did a great job with the competition.

“These projects are very hard,” he said. “The two teams did different aspects of the problem well. No one can solve the whole problem because the problem is too big. So, you have to decide where you’re going to spend your effort and these two teams did really good jobs in focusing their effort on something that they could do to produce really good results.”

To learn more about the winners and their projects, click here.

Media Contact: Carla Nelson,, 334.844.1404
Industrial and Systems Engineering graduate student Paul Longenecker won first place in the Simio competition.

Industrial and Systems Engineering graduate student Paul Longenecker won first place in the Simio competition.

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