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Optimization and the Cold War

Optimization and the Cold War
Berlin, Germany
Language of Instruction: 
Academic Disciplines: 
-Open to All Majors
Petroleum Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Program Type: 
  • Spend a month in the beautiful capital city of Berlin, Germany
  • Join KU students and Professor Kyle Camarda for this program
  • Apply principles of optimization to the historical event of the Berlin Airlift
  • Receive 3 hours of School of Engineering elective credit
Program Summary: 

Take part in the month-long School of Engineering faculty-led program to Berlin, Germany.  A class that combines the practice of optimization and the historical-rich city of Berlin, this course aims to teach the mathematics of logistics through the lens of an historical context in which logistics was vital to success in geopolitics.  The history of divided Berlin between the years of 1945-1989, is a fascinating story of a “political island”: a city surrounded by a wall, maintained by Allied forces, and constrained by the Soviet Empire.  This class will teach the mathematics behind optimal supply chains, scheduling and planning strategies, and constrained logistics which military and civilian planners used to keep the population of Berlin supported and independent of East Germany.  It will include visits to many Berlin-area sites connected to the Cold War period, including Checkpoint Charlie, Potsdam and the “Bridge of Spies”, the Berlin Wall Memorial, and Gatow airport, used in the famous Berlin Airlift.


The program will be located for its entirety in the German capital city of Berlin. Multiple excursions in and around the immediate vicinity of Berlin will be an integral part of the program.


Academic Information: 

With a combination of lectures and site visits, students will gain a new understanding of logistics and optimization and see firsthand the impact of optimization that transformed a country and set the stage for the Cold War.

Students will enroll in 3 credits of C&Pe 601. This course can be used for multiple SOe majors as an elective. The course will be graded on two quizzes, and a final paper on a topic in optimization.

This course will introduce undergraduates to basic ideas in logistics and optimization theory and its application to scheduling and planning. It will also show the links between advances in mathematics and computing and the ability of the Allies to supply West Berlin during the Cold War.  No prior knowledge of optimization or programming is needed.  An outline of course topics is as follows:
1. Logistics and the Traveling Salesman: Problem Formulation
2. Linear and Nonlinear Programming
3. Integer Programming
4. Applications of Optimization in Supply Chain Management and Logistics

Students will live in student residences in the city of Berlin with convenient access to major sites. More information to be finalized on housing.

Identity Abroad: 

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.


Open to any major with a GPA higher than 2.50.

Program Cost: 

Program Cost for Optimization and the Cold War

Program Faculty: 

Dr. Kyle Camarda is an Associate Professor in the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department at the University of Kansas.




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