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Field Trips: An Innovative Approach In Teaching 'manufacturing Processes' To Traditional Undergraduates

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Instrumentation Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.560.1 - 7.560.8



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Paper Authors

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Mary Vollaro

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

Main Menu Instrumentation Division Session 2559

Field Trips: An innovative approach in teaching ‘Manufacturing Processes’ to traditional undergraduates

Mary B. Vollaro, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Engineering, Western New England College, Springfield, MA 01119


Teaching manufacturing processes to undergraduates with industrial and mechanical engineering majors poses a challenge, in that, students have little background from which to begin building their knowledge. Comparing and contrasting different processes becomes just another ‘book’ problem to solve and/or visualization of the processes is problematical for many students. A ‘learning beyond the classroom’ experience of industrial field trips has been implemented for four years as a regular class activity and integral part of student learning. The industries selected are local to the college and four field trips per semester are scheduled during regular class time to assure participation of the entire class. Key to this learning experience is that all trips are scheduled to coincide with topics being covered in class. Students are able to ‘see’ the technology presented in the text, establish a dialogue with the company’s engineer and use their observations in class discussions. Small notepads are provided to each student to encourage note taking, improve retention of process details, and provide an opportunity for a student to role- play, as a practicing engineer. A formal trip report is required and comprised of questions regarding the process technology and products manufactured at the facility. A key question on each trip report states, “What resources, i.e., information and people, would you request if you were a new engineer at this company?” In class, this question sparks discussion and to provides a link between the student’s pre-professional experience and their future in the real world. The feedback from the students has been overwhelmingly positive. Assessment of student learning and basic knowledge is evidenced by the significant improvement in quality of the class discussions and the technical content in the trip reports. The feedback from industry has also been positive and their cooperation has been an asset to this activity.

I. Introduction

For the past four years, industrial field trips have been effectively integrated into and are a required part of the IE314 Manufacturing Processes course at Western New England College (WNEC). As student learning was assessed through case studies and examinations, it was qualitatively observed that many students were weak in correlating the information from the lectures and reading to a new manufacturing problems or in-depth analysis of new applications. Facilitating active class discussions was often difficult due to the lack of exposure to and experience in an industrial environment by the students, most of who are juniors and have not had the opportunity for industrial internships or summer jobs. Therefore, the instructor

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Vollaro, M. (2002, June), Field Trips: An Innovative Approach In Teaching 'manufacturing Processes' To Traditional Undergraduates Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10883

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