Fall 2004 Capstone Projects

Optimization of revenue for William Olefins

Williams Olefins came to the Math Department looking for a program that would maximize revenue. Their ethylene producing plant located near Geismar, LA is equipped with 13 furnaces used to produce 12 different products.

We needed to create a program in which Williams could input current market prices, some minimum and maximum constraints and then get the output telling them feed rates and pressure that would affect the levels of production of the different products and in turn, the revenue.

In order to create a linear model out of a nonlinear process we had to simplify the amount of variables and varying constants. After a massive spreadsheet was reduced to a simplified and better understood Excel worksheet, the Excel link feature of MATLAB was used to actually run the calculations.

Excel Screen shot
Screen Shot of Excel File.
Word Screen shot

Students personal views about the project

Andrew Hanson:

The MATH 4020 clinic course is a device to introduce students who have been concentrating on theory and academic studies to real world application of math. Some of the important concepts encountered through this course are the importance of teamwork, the difference between theoretical results and process results, and the necessity of communication between all applicable parties when a broad problem needs to be addressed. Overall, the class was very informative and enjoyable.

- Andrew

Ivory Junius Jr:

"Math 4020 (Capstone Course) course is not your ordinary course. This was an exciting math course! It showed me the need for mathematicians in other professional fields. I definitely would recommend this course for all math majors. My mathematical knowledge was expanded, and I picked up skills in computer programming, optimization, and web design."


Denise Moore

"This course assigned a real life problem to a group of graduating seniors. No text, no lectures, no answers in the back of the book. We organized, brainstormed, reorganized, and modeled the data given to us, all while calling upon the skills that we have learned while earning our bachelors degree in mathematics. The group was its own little managerial staff. We learned to speak up and apply ourselves in areas which we were most confident. I was impressed with the way the allocation of duties seemed to fall into place. We developed effective techniques for communicating and presenting our ideas. I am proud of the progress we made on our problem."


Rachel Perlis:

"We got the chance to work with professionals in a field with opportunities for math majors. This class helped ground my mathematical education and illustrate what I can do with my major. Having real experience with these industry professionals before graduation enhanced my undergraduate experience and prepared me for life past LSU."


Alex Steggar

"In math 4020 I was able to learn MATLAB and use it on a real-life project. This is a valuable skill and an asset on anyone's resume. All in all, I enjoyed the opportunity to work on a real life problem in a group setting. It was very challenging to take a problem and try to solve it, when it very possibly couldn?t be solved. Being able to learn MATLAB in an applied setting was also great; it is a valuable skill and an asset to any resume. This class has given me direction in my career since now I have a better picture of how to utilize my mathematics skills. It has also opened my eyes up to different fields of study which I could enter; optimization theory looks very interesting, and is potentially very valuable skill, especially when combined with computer technology."


Erin Wrona:

"The math clinic was not like any other math class I have taken before. It made me use the skills I have learned in all my math classes and apply them to a real world problem. It gave each of us an idea of what we can do with our knowledge once we get out of school and into the workforce. I really enjoyed working with Williams and the rest of my group to collectively generate a solution to this maximization problem. Not only did it test my Linear Algebra and computer skills but also my skills working as a team. This is the only math class that incorporated all three and I feel that I have benefited greatly from this project."