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Improving A Manufacturing Class By Adding An Experimental Session

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Implementation of Experiments in Manufacturing Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.701.1 - 14.701.9



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Paper Authors


Benxin Wu Illinois Institute of Technology

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Dr. Benxin Wu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical, Materials and
Aerospace Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). He joined IIT in August 2007
after he completed his Ph.D. degree from Purdue University.

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

The Improvement of a Manufacturing Class by Adding an Experimental Session


The author of this paper has been teaching a graduate-level manufacturing class: MMAE 546 Advanced Manufacturing Engineering. The author has made an effort to improve the class by adding an experimental session to this previously lecture-only class, and this effort will be presented in this paper. The effect of the experimental session on the students’ learning quality improvement and study interest stimulation will be discussed. Students’ comments and feedback are also provided.


Since the author joined the Department of Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering (MMAE) of University A in 2007, he has been teaching the graduate-level class MMAE 546 Advanced Manufacturing, which is offered once a year. The objective of the class is to make the students understand some traditional and non-traditional manufacturing processes, be familiar with the relevant equipments and capabilities of each process, and know some of the important underlying engineering and physical theories for each process. The topics covered include computer numerical control, powder metallurgy, abrasive machining (grinding, etc.), welding, micro/nanomanufacturing, and laser-based manufacturing, etc. The class had been offered for around 10 years before the author joined the department, and had always been a lecture-only class without any experiment.

The fall semester of 2007 is the first semester when the author taught this class, and it has been found that many students feel that the class is a little bit boring, and one of the reasons is that the class does not have an experimental section, and the students do not have the opportunities to see and/or practice what they have seen in the lecture notes or textbooks. For example, during the final official evaluation of the class organized by the university, some students commented:

• “This course is only theory based. Student can not have any practical knowledge about the different machining process. • “Student should have the opportunity to do practical manufacturing project.”

It has also been found that the attendance rate became lower as the class went on, and in some cases it even dropped to below 30%, implying the lack of the interest in the class from the students.

Different instructional methods generate different retention rates in brains1. Compared with lecture generating 5%, teaching others/immediate use of learning generates 90%, which can be achieved through an experimental section effectively. It is also suggested that teachers should “provide opportunities for students to do something active” for a better teaching quality2.

Wu, B. (2009, June), Improving A Manufacturing Class By Adding An Experimental Session Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5183

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