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Economic Feasibility For Production Design: Recent Teaching Experiences

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.160.1 - 2.160.5



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Paper Authors

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Richard C. Anderson

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Michael R. Duffey

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Michael McDermott

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1239

Economic Feasibility for Production Design: Recent Teaching Experiences

Michael R. Duffey, Michael McDermott, Richard C. Anderson The George Washington University


A firm’s decision on whether or not to manufacture a new product design requires the economic analysis of many “downstream” production-related factors. This is a very dynamic, iterative process complicated by engineering changes, market forecasting uncertainties, resource availability, refinement of quality criteria, and other factors. However, this type of experience is outside the scope of most project-based engineering design courses. In this paper, a one semester graduate course in “Production Design” is described which attempts to replicate these complex interactions across multiple teams typical of the product realization process (PRP) in industry. Student teams conduct feasibility studies for small/medium-sized production facilities to assess the technical and economic viability of new high-tech products. Students are divided into three to five interacting teams, each with complementary functional responsibility for product redesign, production planning, materials and purchasing, human and plant resources, and economic and strategic planning. This paper focuses in particular on aspects of the class concept related to engineering economics.

Production Design: The Course Concept

Recently, there has been much curriculum development in project-based engineering design courses which introduce product design methodologies adopted by industry such as Quality Function Deployment, Taguchi Method, and various design-for-manufacturing and techniques. Typically, student design projects begin with requirements definition or a concept design phase and end at completion of the detailed design phase. Final project deliverables typically include CAD models, proof-of-concept prototypes, engineering analysis results, and design-for-manufacturing analysis to minimize tooling and material costs. These types of project-based courses in product design provide a very useful student introduction to design team environments typical of many industries. Recent government- and industry-sponsored curriculum development in this area has been significant.

However, industry decision-making about whether and how to proceed with product realization typically involves many other technical and logistic considerations to assess the economic feasibility of downstream production. Our intent in this one semester graduate course has been to create a project-based student experience that explores those “production design” aspects of the product realization process which finally result in the set-up (or reconfiguration) and operation of a small manufacturing enterprise (SME). The final class deliverable is a

Anderson, R. C., & Duffey, M. R., & McDermott, M. (1997, June), Economic Feasibility For Production Design: Recent Teaching Experiences Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6525

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