System Dynamics

Students from Universidad Francisco de Vitoria (UFV) visits the System Dynamics Group

On April 13, the System Dynamics Group hosted a group of Mathematical Engineering undergrad students and their professors from Universidad Francisco de Vitoria (UFV), Madrid, Spain, for half a day to introduce system dynamics and its utility for real-world problem-solving. We spent time on different activities to learn about system dynamics, how it works, and how we teach it in our master's programme.

UFV students
Germán Lenin Dugarte Peña

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The study visit started with opening remarks from our director, Birgit Kopainsky, who introduced our programme and welcomed the students to participate in a 3-hour workshop. Anaely Aguiar, one of our PhD candidates, then presented a real-world problem (mule deer population overshoot and decline in Kaibab) that could be addressed using system dynamics. She explained how the lack of a feedback perspective by decision-makers caused the problem. After that, Mahla Rashidian, one of our graduates and a current collaborator, talked about the fundamentals and building blocks of system dynamics.

Saeed Langarudi, one of our faculties, then discussed how an extended version of the Lotka-Volterra (predator-prey) model could be developed and used to address the problem. He first walked the students through the process of modeling using Stella Online. He then asked the students to run the model in a flight simulation (gaming) mode and find a way to stabilize and sustain the system after an early external disturbance to its initial dynamic equilibrium. Students were challenged to use system thinking to go through the problem-solving process. Together, they brainstormed the most probable policies which could mitigate the issue. Students had time to play around with the model and test their policies to understand the challenges of policy interventions to stabilize an ecological system.

Participants expressed enthusiasm and excitement for system dynamics and the possibility of advancing their academic and professional development in this area. "Our students were enthusiastic in system dynamics since they recognized they can apply their mathematical background to solve real-world problems," said Germán Lenin Dugarte Peña, Associate Professor of Mathematical Engineering at UFV who, along with Elvira Muñoz García (Program Director and Professor) and Natalia Gordo Herrera (Assistant Professor), supervised the student trip to UiB. The visit ended with a pizza lunch and casual chats with students and professors. We also discussed potential future collaborations at the education and research levels and the possibility of making this visit a regular annual activity.