Students Connect with Local Business for 'Real World' Lessons
Penn State DuBois students studying statistics now regularly have the chance to see their lessons applied to the real world in one of their local industries. Assistant Professor of Economics Evelyn Wamboye has partnered with Atlas Pressed Metals, of DuBois, to show students how statistics are used in the Powder Metal industry. It's a practical method for teaching students how their lessons can be applied outside of the classroom.
"The focus of this class is to teach students the relevance and importance of statistics in everyday life, especially its critical significance to business enterprise, and government, as well as nonprofit organizations," said Wamboye.
At Atlas, the students tour the facility, and get a first-hand look at how the business operates. The company produces powder metal components used in the automotive, lawn and garden, appliance, and other such industries. David Laubacker, a quality technician with Atlas, said mathematics is used throughout their production process, but statistics really come into play during their quality assurance procedures. In the company's Quality Lab, technicians statistically track the strength and quality of their products by running a battery of tests on them, and recording fail rates, or the resistance to failure, that the parts exhibit.
"Maybe the biggest lesson that students can learn from us is how valuable statistics are when it comes to providing a customer with a sense of confidence that you are able to process and deliver a quality product," Laubacker said.
Wamboye agreed that the local company provides valuable lessons for her students. She said, "Taking students to Atlas is a way to give them hands-on experience of how statistics is applied in a business setting. Showing them the relevance of statistics at a neighborhood company gives them a powerful understanding as to why they should take statistics seriously, as it permeates every function and decision that affects our lives."
Wamboye went on to explain more benefits of partnering with a local company, rather than one from out of the area. "I want them to see that their knowledge can be useful to our local economy, to our local businesses," she said. For example, nontraditional students who have returned to college after having worked at our local powdered metal companies realize that they can go back to the company with new skills and increased earning potentials."
Laubacker said having the students in the shop can help Atlas employees, as well, since the students come to them with fresh knowledge and the latest training.
"This brings out the similarities and differences, between the classroom and textbook theory, to the working application and real world use of statistics," Laubacker said.