June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.82.1 - 14.82.11
A Packaging Focused Mechatronics Engineering Technology Program
Abstract The consumer packaged goods industry consisting of food, beverage, and consumer products accounted for more than $2.1 trillion of the United States economy in 2004. The packaging industry itself represented about a $165 billion market in the U.S. Automation plays an important part in U.S. packaging representing about $6 billion yearly sales in machinery alone. Several factors work together to increase this dollar amount each year. As more and more goods are packaged, new equipment must be purchased to package the goods. As energy and material costs increase, more development effort must be spent to minimize cost in these areas. These factors have caused the packaging industry to transform into a high technology, information critical, high speed industry. As these developments have occurred, educational institutions have been slow to provide graduates that can work in this intense industry. As it turns out, engineering technology programs are in an ideal position to support the packaging industry. This paper describes the first Mechatronics Engineering Technology bachelor program specifically designed to serve the packaging industry. The paper describes the program’s development process, the finalized curriculum, industry partners, and laboratory development efforts.
I. Introduction With global economy, consumer, industrial and commercial goods need to be packaged and shipped to different locations. The package must protect the content, deliver proper information about the content and in certain applications be appealing to customers. Packaging industries are under continuous challenges as the cost of energy and material increases. More efficient packages with less material are needed to reduce the cost of packaging. Machines performing these packages are getting more complicated with faster speed and better accuracy. The new packaging machinery utilizes high speed controllers, imaging techniques, wireless technology, and a high degree of intelligence for operation and diagnostics. The packaged goods consisting of a vast variety of items such as food, beverage, and consumer products in 2004 constituted more than $2.1 trillion of United States economy.1 The packaging industry itself allocated about $165 billion market in U.S.2 The U.S. packaging machinery has an annual sales exceeding 6 billion dollars3. The packaging industry and packaging machinery are expanding rapidly and requiring engineers and technicians to design, to modify and operate the equipment. In the past automotive industry employed a large number of engineers and technicians. The collapse of the automotive industry in 2008 had many ramifications worldwide. From an Engineering Technology perspective, it limits job opportunities for interns, co-ops, and graduates, but it also creates a perception issue. For years, the automotive industry was held in high esteem by many college students, and many graduating seniors sent resumes off in hopes of an interview and a steady career. The automotive industry’s use of technology created and reinforced the perception of desirable, highly respected careers. The recent economic downturn has changed that perception, and most technology students are now looking elsewhere for stable careers.
Oddly enough, the packaging industry has similar high technology careers, but students, faculty, and institutions are generally unaware of the opportunities available in this $6 billion per year industry. The industry has a trade association, the Packaging Machinery Manufacturer’s Institute
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