June 16, 2002
June 16, 2002
June 19, 2002
7.695.1 - 7.695.12
Main Menu Session 1351
Integrating Manufacturing Projects into Mechanical Engineering Programs
University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Students receive limited exposure to manufacturing in most undergraduate Mechanical Engineering programs - yet a significant number of mechanical engineers end up working in manufacturing operations or engineering support. The manufacturing discipline combines knowledge from a variety of subjects, such as statics, strength of materials, thermofluids, systems, electronics, etc., that are typically taught in isolation without considering interactions. Solving most real world problems requires integrating this knowledge. As a result of the evolution of standardized Mechanical Engineering programs, students are typically exposed to only one semester of manufacturing processes. Manufacturing problems are rarely used to teach students how to integrate their new knowledge and develop skills to solve applied problems.
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers Manufacturing Education Plan1 defines a set of critical competencies expected of engineering students entering manufacturing industries. The Plan is a result of workshops with automotive, aerospace, electronics, and other industries. Competencies such as project planning and management, communication, problem solving, teamwork, engineering science, and design apply to all organizations where engineers work. Solving manufacturing problems is a good way to develop these and additional competencies in problem identification, prediction, managing ambiguity and trade-offs, decision-making, DFM, product and process design, and materials applications. The multi-disciplinary nature of manufacturing problems requires concurrent engineering and a systems view often missing in problems used to teach basic, discipline-oriented engineering principles. Manufacturing problems help students understand that most of the analytical skills and knowledge they have been acquiring during their engineering education is intended to support physical realization of objects and systems manufactured by real processes with real materials.
This paper describes some approaches undertaken to help students develop the competencies listed above within a traditional Mechanical Engineering program at Gonzaga University. The approaches involve adding hands-on projects to existing manufacturing related courses, enhancing non-manufacturing courses with manufacturing issues and projects, and using manufacturing problems as senior capstone design projects.
Enhancing Manufacturing Related Courses
In many traditional Mechanical Engineering programs, the only exposure students have to manufacturing is to one manufacturing processes course. This course is often very focused on
Ramers, D. (2002, June), Integrating Manufacturing Projects Into Mechanical Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. https://peer.asee.org/10259
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