June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Design in Engineering Education
13.300.1 - 13.300.12
Collaborative Product Design and Realization in Mechanical Engineering Technology Curricula Abstract
Mechanical and manufacturing engineers are working in a global environment which requires new skills. New term developed over the last decade for them: the “knowledge workers”. Those engineers need a new skill set to work successfully on collaborative projects involving people located not only at different companies, but also potentially on different continents. This new skill set can be developed using secure web sites for storing product related data, virtual chat rooms which would enable students to share presentations and applications. Those tools could enable faster collaboration on those projects. They could save that information as knowledge for their future capstone projects and alike. Working around the clock has recently become the goal of every company. Collaboration needs to be facilitated by digital means such as web portals, voice over internet protocol, and video and audio conferencing. Mechanical Engineering Technology students should be able to adapt quickly into this new working environment after their graduation. The student projects should involve working on web-based collaborative projects. Midwest Coalition for Comprehensive Design Education, National Science Foundation founded project, various projects were developed in the web based collaborative environment.
Currently, engineers do not necessarily work at one location. With this disparate work environment engineers need to share product related data among themselves. The old-fashioned way of using blueprints, face to face meetings or travelling from one place to another is slowly being integrated with other digital technologies such as: computer aided design, product data management, and product lifecycle management, etc. The design and realization of contemporary products involve working in a digital collaborative environment. All product- related processes, from design, prototyping, manufacturing, testing, and assembly, can be performed in more than one facility. As businesses expand globally, extensive collaboration during every phase of the product lifecycle is necessary for updated information and to provide data among different departments. Working in a distributed environment does pose some unique challenges. Managing distributed projects can be more complex than managing the projects in which people are working in the same office or in the same company. Keeping up with the pace that is going on in every stage of the project is becoming a full time job. Users need better, more collaborative tools that can empower innovation and success. It is difficult to gather a distributed workforce together in one room or even on one conference call. Today's global economy is in transition to a knowledge economy, or an information society. The “know how” is becoming more critical than economic recourses1. New technologies have had a significant impact on the way business is conducted, and have also changed the skills required by today’s workers. Product design and realization is now shifting toward mass customization and a shorter product lifecycle. This requires more educated people and more flexible systems. Managing virtual meetings and distributed tasks needs a new skill set that should be fully covered in the Mechanical Engineering Technology Curriculum.
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