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Integration Of A Manufacturing Experience Into The Undergraduate Curriculum In Polymer Engineering

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.268.1 - 1.268.5

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Paper Authors

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Robert M. Briber

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James Lochary

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David I. Bigio

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

Session 2213

Integration of a Manufacturing Experience into the Undergraduate Curriculum in Polymer Engineering

Robert M. Briber, David I. Bigio / James Lochary University of Maryland at College Park/ Adell Plastics, Inc.


A new course titled “Manufacturing with Polymers” has been developed in the Engineering School at the University of Maryland which utilizes local industry as a resource for education by tightly integrating the normal classroom experience with manufacturing at local industrial facilities using production scale equipment. This course, as developed over the last two semesters by a cross disciplinary group of faculty from the Mechanical, Chemical and Materials Engineering Departments, involves developing, in collaboration with local industrial partners, a specific problem in polymer manufacturing which can be handled in a single semester by upper-level undergraduates working in teams of 2-4 students. The goal of the course is to provide students with a manufacturing experience outside of the normal University environment and to introduce the concepts of polymer engineering using the techniques of anchor teaching and just-in-time learning in response to needs identified by both the instructor and the students. The course draws on advanced topics (often first treated at the graduate level) which include non-Newtonian fluid dynamics, polymer processing, laminar mixing theory, polymer characterization, polymer blends, etc. The topics are introduced in logical order as they are needed for the project and as they are brought up by the students in response to their needs for making progress on the project.

The course combines work in the classroom, at the industrial manufacturing site and in on- campus laboratories. The classroom time is spent developing the basic background needed to communicate on the topics, anchor teaching of key concepts, formulating the project and presentations by guest lecturers (largely from industry).


One of the most common complaints heard from engineering students, particularly at the upper- class level, is that they feel that too many of their courses are focused on the theoretical aspects of engineering and that they do not gain enough “hands-on” engineering experience during their time at the University to be competitive in the job market. It is clear that most universities do not have the resources to set up large scale manufacturing labs on campus for each of the engineering departments. Nevertheless, it is important to provide students with exposure to a manufacturing environment in an educational atmosphere during their course of studies. Schon describes the dilemma as one of rigor vs. relevance. What can be solved rigorously may have no practical relevance; whereas, industrial solutions 1 rarely lead to any fundamental understanding . Schon goes on to suggest an epistemology of “knowing- in-action,” or “tacit knowledge,” should be the new form of scholarship.

To implement this type of learning experience at the University of Maryland, we enlisted the aid of local industry for help by opening up their manufacturing site for student projects. The polymer manufacturing/processing industry is a logical candidate for this type of University-Industry collaboration, as it is common to have various small polymer processing companies

$iii’ ) 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings ‘.

Briber, R. M., & Lochary, J., & Bigio, D. I. (1996, June), Integration Of A Manufacturing Experience Into The Undergraduate Curriculum In Polymer Engineering Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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