Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Modeling Simul & Visual Engineering

Committee Director

Duc T. Nguyen (Co-Director)

Committee Member

Man Wo Ng (Co-Director)

Committee Member

Yuzhong Shen

Committee Member

Mecit Cetin


Recognizing the steady decline in US Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) interests and enrollments, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the White House have developed national strategies and provided significant budget resources to STEM education research [1-2] in the past years, with the ultimate goals being to improve both the quality and number of highly trained US educators, student workforce in STEM topics, in today’s highly competitive global markets. With the explosion of the internet’s capability and availability, it is even more critical to effectively train this future USA-STEM work-force and/or to develop effective STEM related teaching tools to reach a maximum possible number of “distance learners/audiences”.

Various teaching philosophies have been proposed, tested and documented by educational research communities, such as video lectures (YouTube), “flipped” class lectures (where students are encouraged to read the lecture materials on their own time, and problem solving and/or question/answer sessions are conducted in the usual classroom environments), STEM summer camps, game-based-learning (GBL) [3-5], virtual laboratories [6] and concept inventory [7].

The goal of this study is to develop useful, user friendly Java computer animation for “teaching” these basic/important STEM algorithms that will not only help both the students and their instructors to master this technical subject, but also provide a valuable tool for obtaining the solutions for homework assignments, class examinations, and self-assessment tools. Java software tools were developed for this research which include the Unloading and Pre-Marshalling algorithms for Terminal Yard Operations, the Hungarian algorithm for worker to job optimum assignment, the Dijkstra algorithm for solving the shortest-path of a transportation network, and the Cholesky Decomposition algorithm for solving simultaneous linear equations. This “educational version” of the Java-based application were implemented with several desirable features, such as:

  • A detailed, precise and clear step-by-step algorithm will be displayed in text and human voice during the animation of the algorithm.
  • Options to hear animated voice in several major languages (English, Chinese and Spanish).
  • Options to input/output data (CVS file), or manually edit the data using an editor, or “randomly generating” data.
  • Output of the “final/optimal” results can be exported to text so that the users/learners can check/verify their “hand-calculated” results, which is an important part of the learning process.