Professional Development Course: Design of Experiments

Fall 2017

The Design of Experiments course offered by the Chemical Institute of Canada through CI360 at Mohawk College on October 17-18, 2017 was full of such useful information and techniques that I would recommend it to anyone in any field.

Design of Experiments is a statistics-based problem-solving technique that can be applied to virtually any field: chemistry, biology, social sciences, business, etc. It can be used to optimize any problem with any number of variables.

What’s great is you don’t need to know anything more than basic statistics and how to use a simple and user-friendly program called Minitab. The class was taught how to effectively find the variables in the problem and their limits, and thereby design the experiment. Then, this information is used to create an experiment in Minitab. Minitab generates a list of physical experiments in a random order to be run by the users and the results are added to the experiment. Minitab will generate a smaller number of experiments if a high level of accuracy is not necessary. The statistical analysis can be used to optimize the conditions of the problem.

One example the course instructor, Samantha Waytowich, gave the class was dancing raisins. She gave us many variables including cup types and styles, differently aged raisins and popcorn kernels, different types and temperatures of water, and whether the vessel had a lid or not. We were put into groups to design the experiment from the beginning, run the experiments and use Minitab for the statistical analysis. Given so many variables, the groups had to decide which variables were deemed important and how many experiments to run. I don’t think I have ever seen a group of adults so excited to see raisins dancing!

The two-day Design of Experiments course left each participant with more knowledge and an excitement to use statistics in their workplace (who would have known!). Keep an eye out for the next time Design of Experiments is offered and check out the Professional Development Courses page for any upcoming courses in your area.