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Engagement In Industry: Preparing Undergraduate Engineering Technology Students For Graduate Study

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Mentoring Graduate Students

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.540.1 - 11.540.9



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Paper Authors


Wesley Stone Western Carolina University

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Wes Stone is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology at Western Carolina University. He earned his B.S at the University of Texas at Austin, his M.S. at Penn State University, and his Ph.D. at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His industrial experience includes manufacturing and six sigma quality, which are current areas of interest. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in solid mechanics, quality, and capstone design at Western Carolina.

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Chip Ferguson Western Carolina University

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Chip W. Ferguson is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology at Western Carolina University. He earned his B.S and M.S. at the University of Southern Mississippi, and is currently a doctoral candidate at Western Carolina University. His industrial experience includes mechanical and fluid power systems, and he teaches parametric modeling and prototyping at Western Carolina.

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Aaron Ball Western Carolina University

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Aaron K. Ball is an Associate Professor and serves as the Graduate Program Director in Engineering and Technology at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. He holds a B.S. and an M.S. from Appalachian State University, and earned his doctorate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. His areas of interest include fluid power, advanced machining, prototyping systems, and applied research.

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

Engagement in Industry: Preparing Undergraduate Engineering Technology Students for Graduate Study


As national and global economies continue to evolve, it becomes paramount that regional industries strive to remain competitive. The heavy loss of jobs in western North Carolina, particularly in manufacturing has led Western Carolina University to develop the Center for Integrated Technologies, which provides the avenue for regional industry to access university resources—personnel and facilities. Engagement is the title typically used to describe this relationship between industry and academia. The engagement process at Western Carolina has been successful in coupling graduate students with industry projects, and now it is being used to provide undergraduate students with that same exposure. One of the benefits of this undergraduate involvement is that there is now a conduit in place to generate additional interest in the graduate program, as well as a means for student and faculty to interact in an industrial project setting. The next step in this progression is to couple graduate students with undergraduate students, as they embark on challenging projects that will benefit regional industry.


Situated in Cullowhee, NC Western Carolina University (WCU) is a comprehensive state university set in the mountains of western North Carolina. With an enrollment of approximately 8,700 graduate and undergraduate students, WCU has transitioned into an institution that serves not only its student body, but also the industry in the region. Western North Carolina has seen a dramatic decrease in manufacturing, textile, and wood products business over the past decade. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers reports that manufacturing jobs in the United States decreased by more that three million over the period from 1998-20041—the rural regions of western North Carolina experienced declines of similar proportions during that period. Comparable to the national average, the unemployment rate in North Carolina was 5.52% in November 2005.2

In February 2003 a regional summit was held at WCU to address the loss of jobs in western North Carolina. These leaders from industry, academia, and government concluded that it was crucial to link industry and academia through engagement by establishing a regional high tech center.3 WCU Chancellor John Bardo acted promptly with the creation of the Center for Integrated Technology (CIT).4 As noted by Ferguson, et al5 the center was equipped with a vast array of high-tech facilities to assist faculty, staff, students, and industry in this engagement effort, including: Automated Rapid Prototyping: • Stratasys FDM Titan® • Stratasys Eden 333® • ZCorp Z400®

Stone, W., & Ferguson, C., & Ball, A. (2006, June), Engagement In Industry: Preparing Undergraduate Engineering Technology Students For Graduate Study Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1384

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