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The inspiration came from an example that was used in Douglas Montgomery’s book where the game of golf was used as an example for an experiment. Why not invent a golf toy that can be used to teach design of experiments (DOE)?  Golf is universal, and many people are really fanatical about the game.

The golf experiment has wider appeal than previous demonstrations such as the table hockey experiment described in DOE Simplified by Anderson and Whitcomb (2000) and the catapult described in Understanding Industrial Designed Experiments by Schmidt and Launsby (1994).  The catapult appeals more to the younger students but not to “older” students.  Table hockey is great as well but students from overseas do not find it as fascinating. The DOE-GolferTM, however, seems to appeal to all students.  It appears that everybody wants to be as good as Tiger Woods.

Teaching with the DOE-GolferTM

It is best to use a group approach. Before the start of any formal lectures on DOE techniques, each group of 4 to 5 students are assigned a DOE-GolferTM.  The group would figure out how it works, the number of potential independent factors that can be varied, the possible responses, and conditions that are held constant, and their experimental strategy or strategies. After a few doses of DOE techniques, the groups are asked to reconsider their original strategy. The groups will soon realize that using proper DOE techniques are definitely more effective.  So each time a new technique is taught, for example, blocking, the groups will use the DOE-GolferTM to carry out a “blocking” type experiment. The final topic is normally Response Surface Methodology and again the groups will use the DOE-GolferTM carry out various RSM designs. Designs that can be carried out include: general factorial designs, 2-level full factorial designs, fractional factorial designs, factorial designs with blocking, and various response surface designs.

At least seven factors can be studied with the DOE-GolferTM:

1. Length of club
2. Angle of swing
3. Weight of club
4. Type of ball
5. Type of green or carpet
6. Direction
7. Player

The first three are the major ones if only one type of ball is used and played on the same carpet, and if the floor and carpet are flat and uniform in all directions.



Competing with the DOE-GolferTM

A golf tournament can be played in a large carpeted room using the DOE-GolferTM.  Students can be divided into teams and given a week or two to “train” for the tournament.  During this period, the groups had to conduct the appropriate experiments and arm themselves with the equation(s) they would need for the tournament. The tournament consists of two components: 1) Lines: masking tapes can be placed on the carpet at three places along the North-South and East-West directions. The number of strokes to get to within 2 cm of each of the three lines is then totalled.  2) Holes: Four-hole golf challenge. Golf holes (drawn with chalk on the carpet) can be put at four places in the room and they have to get the ball in the holes.  The number of strokes to get the ball in all four holes totalled; the group with the least number of strokes overall is the winner.

Learning about DOE Using the DOE-GolferTM



Using the DOE-GolferTM as a vehicle to teach DOE has been found to be a great success.  The students really enjoyed it and they learn much about both DOE and golf and to work together as a group. It was also lots of fun.  Since according to George Box that “the best time to do an experiment is after you have done it”, it is always a good idea to ask the winners to share their secrets of their success and every group should be asked: If they had a chance to compete again, what would they do different?  The DOE-GolferTM provides a hands-on, fun, challenging, and memorable way of learning and teaching DOE methodology to undergraduates and professionals alike and is thus highly recommended.

Bonus DOE Software Simulation Toys

As a bonus, purchasers of the DOE-GolferTM will also get software versions of two DOE simulation “toys”.  You will need to have Java on your computer to run the “toys”. These software simulation “toys” are great for quick in-class data collection and analysis.

Key Benefits of DOE-GolferTM

  • Aside from being a teaching apparatus, DOE-GolferTM serves as an excellent team building exercise
  • Up to 7 factors can be studied: 1) club length, 2) angle of swing, 3) weight of club, 4) type of ball, 5) type of carpet or “green”, 6) direction, and 7) player
  • Designs that can be carried out include: general factorial designs, 2-level full factorial designs, fractional factorial designs, factorial designs with blocking, and various response surface designs
  • Organized golf tournaments allow students to demonstrate their new DOE skills, with a healthy dose of competition!

DOE-GolferTM Sample Client List:

John Deere, Sanofi-Pasteur, Cummins, Bell-Canada, Fairchild Semiconductors, Eastman Chemicals, Ingersoll-Rand, Sappi Fine Paper, Pratt-Whitney, Nexolab GmbH, Maryland Healthcare Education Institute, and Peninsula Regional Medical Center.  It is also used by educational institutions such as Edgecombe Community College, Bingham Young University, Memorial University, University of Indonesia, and several companies in Europe and USA involved with Six-Sigma training.

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