43 application and insights students can select among

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4.3 Application and Insights Students can select among several areas related to simulation to develop their MSc thesis. One of these areas is linked with the development of models related to networks and distributed computer systems in the so called Castelldefels Project (Juan et al. 2007a). This project consists of the development of a simu- lation model that accurately represents the real computer system that gives support to the e-learning envi- ronment at the UOC. This model must be developed with the help of network simulation software such as OPNET Modeler ( ). The main target of the Castelldefels project is to provide the computer system’s managers with a realistic simulation model of their system. This model will allow managers to: (i) analyze the behavior of the current system in order to discover possible performance problems such as bottlenecks, weak points in the structure, among others; and (ii) perform what-if analy- sis regarding future changes in the system, including the addition of new Internet-based services, varia- tions in the number and types of users, changes in hardware or software components, etc. By involving themselves in this project, computer science students learn not only simulation but also how this can be useful in the computer network arena. Another exciting area is related with the development of new simulation-based algorithms for differ- ent combinatorial optimization problems in the fields of logistics, transportation, and scheduling (Faulin et al. 2008; Gonzalez et al. 2012; Caceres et al. 2012). These algorithms can be used as an efficient alter- native to other approaches based on mathematical programming or even metaheuristics e.g., Simulated Annealing, Tabu Search, Genetic Algorithms, etc. , which usually are more difficult to be used in prac- tice since they require complex fine-tuning processes. Here, the students’ goal is to collaborate with their instructors in the designing, implementation and testing of new algorithms and their applications to rout- ing or scheduling problems. Usually, Java is the programming language employed to develop these algo- rithms, basically due to its object-oriented properties, and its balanced relationship between development- time and execution-performance (Figure 2). Other areas are related with the use of simulation to improve queuing models such as contact centers (Faulin and Juan 2005), or to estimate reliability and availabil- ity functions in time-dependent complex systems, networks and structures (Juan et al. 2007b, 2009). The assessment methodology uses the principle of continuous evaluation based on scheduled homework. At each milestone, students must send their deliverables to the instructor, who reviews them according to the initial goals and provides the corresponding feedback to each student.
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