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Improving The Relevance Of Manufacturing In A Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

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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

Trends in Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.646.1 - 7.646.5



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Paper Authors

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Klaus Weinmann

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Michele Miller

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Session 1566

Improving the Relevance of Manufacturing in a Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

Michele H. Miller, Klaus J. Weinmann Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI


In the 2000-01 academic year, Michigan Tech University implemented a new mechanical engineering curriculum (coincident with a change from quarters to semesters). To improve the relevance of manufacturing in that curriculum, faculty and staff developed a new sophomore level course Integrated Design and Manufacturing. The course is part of a design and manufacturing thread that begins in the freshman year and extends to the senior year. The course presents an overview of the product development process, discusses the major unit manufacturing processes along with part design implications, and introduces manufacturing systems. The course departs from the earlier quarter long manufacturing course by emphasizing practice more and theory less. A new laboratory provides hands-on manufacturing experience to all students.


The Mechanical Engineering—Engineering Mechanics Department at Michigan Tech has for many years placed a high value on manufacturing in its curricula and research. A change from quarters to semester in the 2000-01 academic year prompted faculty and staff to review the entire undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum and make revisions. The primary goals of the new curriculum are making the first year common to all engineering majors, integrating design and manufacturing concepts from the freshman through senior years, and increasing the hands- on component with new lab classes and facilities. An important part of the overall curriculum revision was to improve the manufacturing component, particularly in the context of improving design capabilities.

In the quarter system, all mechanical engineering (ME) students were required to take a 4 credit class Introduction to Manufacturing Processes. This was a junior level class (often postponed until the senior year) consisting of 3 lectures and 1 lab session per week. The course focused heavily on quantitative analysis of manufacturing processes. For example, expressions for forging and extrusion forces were derived. Machining forces and chip formation geometry were presented in detail. The weekly lab reflected the overall philosophy of the course: quantities (such as forces) were measured during various manufacturing processes (extrusion, powder metallurgy, turning, etc.) and compared to theoretical predictions. During the lab sessions, only a few students actually operated manufacturing equipment; most students watched and recorded data. The class provided a good basis for the senior elective courses on metal forming, casting, machining, and plastics. The course did not, however, create a passion for manufacturing in most students. It did not adequately convey the capabilities and limitations of various

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

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Weinmann, K., & Miller, M. (2002, June), Improving The Relevance Of Manufacturing In A Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10648

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