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Kevin Pyatt
Associate Professor
kpyatt@regis.edu
College of Computer & Information Sciences
Regis University
Could Grazing Be Dangerous? Ask the Cows! 

This case study introduces important issues related to invasive species and noxious weeds that have particular ecological and agricultural importance. The realistic storyline follows a rancher, Elmer, who has recently purchased a 180-acre parcel of land. Elmer soon discovers however that the land is infested with houndstongue, an invasive species of weed that poisons his livestock. With the help of his local area conservation district, Elmer organizes volunteers to go for training, where they learn about invasive species, how to identify invasive weed species, and how to use a mobile invasive weed application, a real app that students can download to identify, map, geolocate, and upload invasive species data. The case concludes with the volunteers analyzing the data and making recommendations for integrated pest management. The case was originally developed at a wildlife refuge where field-biologists train citizens in how to identify and sample weed species. The intended audience is the general “citizen scientist” who is interested in land conservation, land use, and invasive species.


Mathematically Modeling Aircraft Fuel Consumption 

The problem studied in this case deals with the identification of potential ways to lower fuel consumption in a 737 aircraft. Students are presented with actual flight data, such as fuel weights, passenger loads, fuel consumption, trip mileage, and trip phases. Students must simplify the problem and model a typical flight. Based on their analysis and assumptions, students then prepare and defend their recommended approaches for reducing fuel consumption for the aircraft. Students role-play throughout the case as flight engineers working for an engineering firm that has been tasked to prepare the analysis. The results of the analysis are presented to a panel that evaluates the appropriateness and reasonableness of the team's recommendations. One challenging aspect of this case is the amount of flight data available. Students must sift through the data and decide which are relevant and which are extraneous to the problem at hand. Originally designed for use with secondary mathematics teacher candidates in a problem solving course, the mathematics is accessible to most high school pre-calculus and physics students. The case would be a good supplement to a high school or college pre-calculus course that includes finding regression equations.