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Engineering Technology Interdisciplinary Projects

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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

ETD Design II

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.562.1 - 25.562.10



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Paper Authors


John L. Irwin Michigan Technological University

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John Irwin has presented published papers at the ASEE conferences in 2002 & 2006-09 in the Engineering Technology and Engineering Graphics Divisions. Irwin in 2006 joined the School of Technology at Michigan Technological University and presently is a tenured Associate Professor, MET and is also Coordinator of the MET program. He has a master’s degree in occupational education from Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Mich. and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich. Irwin has also been a Program Manager for a NSF grant awarded in the ATE program area from 2002-2006. He is experienced in industry as well as the teaching profession with a career spanning five years in engineering design, several years part time consulting in industry, and 24 total years of teaching first high school, then community college and presently university-level courses in the engineering technology subject area. Irwin has a research focus on evaluation of teaching and learning in the area of computer aided design, analysis, and manufacturing subjects introduced in the STEM related courses in K-16 educational levels. From 2009-2010, Irwin served as PI for a Michigan Department of Education Title II Improving Teacher Quality grant targeting grade 5-12 physics and chemistry teachers’ use of inquiry learning and technology.

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David Wanless Michigan Technological University


Paul Sanders Michigan Technological University

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Paul Sanders earned his B.S. in metallurgical and materials engineering from Michigan Technological University and his Ph.D. in materials science from Northwestern University. His Ph.D. research was on the processing, structure, and mechanical properties of nanocrystalline palladium and copper. He postdoc’d at Argonne National Laboratory and Harvard University using lasers for solidification processing and material characterization. He then worked for 10 years on chassis materials (brake rotors and wheels) in Research and Advanced Engineering at Ford Motor Company. During that time, he also worked at Jaguar Land Rover as a Six Sigma Blackbelt. For the last three years, he has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Michigan Technological University. His Solidification Theory and Practice research team designs metallic alloys and processing for energy applications such as lightweight aluminum alloys for power train components, anisotropic gasarite structures for energy absorption, and high toughness ductile iron for wind turbine hubs and bedplates. He also advises the Advanced Metalworks Enterprise, a student-run engineering organization that executes industry-driven development projects.

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Scott W. Wagner Michigan Technological University

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Scott Wagner is an Assistant Professor in the MET Program in the School of Technology at Michigan Technological University. He holds a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Mich., and a master’s degree in manufacturing operations from Kettering University, Flint, Mich. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. from Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Mich., in mechanical engineering, engineering mechanics.

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Engineering Technology Interdisciplinary ProjectsAttendees will understand the advantages and challenges of implementinginterdisciplinary service projects for graduates from an engineering technology program.Data will be presented that indicates the costs and benefits of projects includingtroubleshooting, retrofitting, designing and manufacturing components for a donated diecast machine, a rotary fatigue bend tester, an environmental simulation test chamber, anddevelopment of a CPR mattress manufacturing process for the departments of Civil,Material Science and Biomedical Engineering.In the Mechanical Engineering Technology Program each student completes a twosemester capstone project sequence to meet the requirements for graduation and tocomply with ABET standards. Implementing capstone projects in conjunction withindustry partners presents several challenges. Some of the challenges that may be facedinclude; project completion timelines that do not align with academic calendars,proprietary information that cannot be shared, and the difficulties of schedulingcollaborative meetings with students and the industry project lead personnel. Budgetconstraints are an additional barrier, especially during a slow economy that may not allowfor companies to donate resources for sponsoring student run projects. With the goal inmind to offer a real world experience for students in a capstone project we decided tolook in rather than out for a solution.Interdisciplinary service opportunities alleviate some of these difficulties and provide areliable source of capstone experiences for product design and development projects.Examples of projects include redesign of laboratory equipment that may exist indepartments that has fallen into disrepair, been donated by industry, or that needs to beretrofitted to serve a new purpose. As a result of utilizing this otherwise non value addedequipment, the projects fulfill the University sustainability strategic goal as well asdepartmental education needs.As far as student abilities required, equipment retrofit projects require integration ofelectromechanical skill sets satisfying the high job growth area of developing proceduresfor, utilizing, and servicing test equipment. Additional benefits are the student exposureto fields like biomedical product development which require innovative manufacturingmethods, and implementation of technical writing communication skills which arenecessary for creation of operations and safety manuals to accompany these pieces ofequipment. Interdisciplinary service projects allow students the opportunity to researchcustomer requirements, develop solutions and solve problems with faculty and studentsfrom units outside their own department. While the educational benefits for theengineering technology student are numerous, the final result of interdisciplinary serviceprojects benefit students from the service departments because of the improvedlaboratory equipment.

Irwin, J. L., & Wanless, D., & Sanders, P., & Wagner, S. W. (2012, June), Engineering Technology Interdisciplinary Projects Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21319

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