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An Approach to Incorporating Sustainability in a Manufacturing Engineering Technology Program

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Sustainable Product Development and Manufacturing

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.152.1 - 25.152.15



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Paper Authors


Rex C. Kanu Ball State University

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Rex C. Kanu is Coordinator of the Manufacturing Engineering Technology program.

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Pamela Elizabeth Betz Ball State University

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Pamela Elizabeth Betz is a graduate student, having received a master's of arts in adult and community education from Ball State University and currently working toward an Ed.D. in adult, higher, and community education at Ball State. She is currently an instructor of agriculture at Ivy Tech Community College, Marion, Ind.

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Samuel Cotton Ball State University

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Samuel Cotton has been with the Department of Technology for 20 years, specializing in career and technical education. He taught for three and a half years prior to this in secondary career and technical schools in Indiana. In the past decade, he has published 11 refereed articles, and he has presented several times each year at state, national, and international conferences over the past 20 years. He currently serves as the Chair of the Department of Technology at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.

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Incorporating Sustainability in a Manufacturing Engineering Technology Program There seems to be a strong perception in many quarters that global economicactivities are not sustainable given the rate of consumption of non-renewablenatural resources such as hydrocarbons, in particular, fossil fuel. For example,since the land-based fossil fuel findings/wells are being depleted, there is anincreasing need to explore the deep seas for fossil fuel. Similarly, the mining ofmetal ores is becoming increasingly difficult as many of the easily accessiblemines are being depleted. Given this scenario, there seems to be a push fromenvironmentalists, industrialists, and concerned citizens to promote sustainability.However, not everyone agree on the definition of sustainability. In this paper,sustainability is defined as “the development that meets the needs of the presentwithout compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their ownneed.”1 In the Manufacturing Engineering Technology program at ------------------,aspects of sustainability are being incorporated in the many of its courses.Specifically, students in a junior level plastics course are required to undertakeresearch projects in plastics materials as a partial requirement for the course. Thisyear, some students are working with a biopolymer, polylactic acid (PLA) and claynanoparticles. PLA is considered a renewable resource and it is environmentallysafe. Clay nanoparticles are naturally occurring resources that are environmentallyand ecologically safe. The goal of this project is introduce the students to theconcept of sustainability by researching and working with renewable materialssuch as PLA and clay nanoparticles in a hands-on laboratory setting. The studentswill make polymer/clay nanocomposites by melt compounding with a twin-screwextruder, injection mold tensile specimens, and evaluate the tensile properties onthe PLA/clay nanocomposites. These results are compared with those of thecontrol, virgin PLA specimens and other traditional petroleum-based plastics suchpolyethylene and polypropylene. The flame retardant properties of the PLA/claynanocomposites will also be examined. The results of the project will be sharewith the entire class in presentation scheduled at end of the semester. How much of the concept of sustainability is understood by students will beassessed in the final examination for the course. The results of the assessment willbe shared in a paper presentation at the 2012 conference.

Kanu, R. C., & Betz, P. E., & Cotton, S. (2012, June), An Approach to Incorporating Sustainability in a Manufacturing Engineering Technology Program Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20912

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