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Laboratory Experiments In Process Design And Optimization

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.672.1 - 6.672.14

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Zbigniew Prusak

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

Session 2526

Laboratory Experiments in Process Design and Optimization

Zbigniew Prusak Central Connecticut State University


This paper describes an approach used to teach various aspects of manufacturing process design, optimization and improvement via hands-on experiences in laboratory experimentation. The experiments were conducted using a very low cost apparatus for launching projectiles. They utilized several basic physical principles such as elasticity, gravity, sliding friction, and fluid friction. Various geometric characteristics of the apparatus and the process were used as variables. Optimization of the process for a set of goals and proof runs finished the experiments. Individual and team approaches were used for goal setting, brainstorming of expected results, possible sources of process errors and measurement errors, control of the process, preliminary test runs and what-if scenarios. These activities were included at the beginning of the experiments to teach the importance of organizational aspects of engineering experimentation and initial problem analysis. Observations from classroom are compared to observations from an industrial setting where this experiment was used as a tool to teach concepts of Design of Experiments. The observations from both environments include some aspects of group dynamics as well as evaluation of accomplishment of objectives and setting of goals for possible further improvements. Some of the biggest advantages of this experiment are very low cost, portability, ease of reproducing in various environments and flexibility in devising objectives appropriate to analytical skill level of the students.

1. Introduction

Design of a manufacturing process, a business process or a tool to allow carrying out a given process, requires several distinct steps that entail technical as well as non-technical knowledge. The design process usually involves several iterations before the final results are achieved. The iterations involve various engineering and/or business reviews, optimization and fine tuning. These steps are clearly non-value adding activities during the design process, since they require time and tie up resources due to unforeseen difficulties, revised objectives or changed constraints.

The purely technical knowledge has been considered the core of engineering education since its very beginnings in Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées established in 1747. L'Ecole Polytechnique established in 1794, is considered to be the first engineering institution with a structured process of engineering knowledge transfer. The founders of that institution recognized

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Prusak, Z. (2001, June), Laboratory Experiments In Process Design And Optimization Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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