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Leveraging Industry Partnerships to Create New Educational Focused Laboratory Facilities

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Integrating Curriculum and Labs in ET Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

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Paper Authors


Grant P. Richards Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Grant P. Richards is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Technology at Purdue University. He teaches in the areas of automation, process and industrial communication systems.

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Donald (Don) D. Cummings Endress+Hauser

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After completing an undergraduate degree in Physics at Purdue University, Don began his career teaching high school physics and physical science. Soon, however, he began working in the Process Industries in various states, before returning to Indiana. Since 1979 he has been with Endress+Hauser, a worldwide leader in process automation measurement. At the US headquarters in the metropolitan Indianapolis area, Don has held roles as diverse as R&D physicist, Engineering Manager, Product Development Specialist, Product Manager, and Technical Training Manager. Today he works in Technical Talent Development where his role is all about engineering students - exposing them to the process industries by engaging with faculty and programs with time, people, and equipment -- and hiring high potential graduates for an Endress+Hauser development program. It is in this faculty engagement realm that Don finds himself co-authoring this paper with faculty from his alma mater.

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Bradley C. Harriger Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Brad Harriger has over 30 years of experience teaching automated manufacturing and has authored/co-authored several related articles. Professor Harriger has served in several leadership roles with Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the American Society for Engineering Education, and is a founding member of an international Aerospace Automation Consortium, serving on its steering committee for several years. He has invested over twenty-five years in the development and maintenance of a multimillion dollar manufacturing laboratory facility complete with a full scale, fully integrated manufacturing system. Professor Harriger has been a Co-PI on two NSF funded grants focused on aerospace manufacturing education and is currently a Co-PI on the NSF funded TECHFIT project, a middle school afterschool program that teaches students how to use programmable controllers and other technologies to design exercise games. Additionally, he co-organizes multiple regional automation competitions for an international controls company.

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This paper details an innovative partnership between academia and multiple manufacturers, distributors, and vendors within the process control industry leading to the design and installation of new industrial-grade laboratory infrastructure in an undergraduate capstone experience.

The multi-year collaboration between academia and industry resulted in the development of a year-long student-driven project centered on the design, development, and installation of new laboratory infrastructure on a scale beyond the budgetary resources of the host institution or any individual industry partner. The resulting installation is a permanent education and demonstration system constructed to industry standards, utilized in the delivery of concepts related to process control, measurement, and communications in undergraduate coursework while also providing a platform for interdisciplinary research within academic schools outside of its engineering technology host program.

This paper presents the formation and history of the partnership as well as an overview of initial interactions and planning that lead to a large-scale collaborative effort between academia and industry. Also detailed are the upfront commitments of academia and industry required to launch an open-ended project of this scale and the challenges associated with the dynamic nature of project scope, instructional delivery, timeline and budget. This examination includes a focus on the roles of faculty and industry participants during all stages of the project including pre-planning, budgeting, instruction, design, sourcing, procurement, implementation and troubleshooting. Additional reflection includes a summary of the short- and long-term benefits of the experience and resulting infrastructure from the perspectives of both academia and industry participants.

Richards, G. P., & Cummings, D. D. D., & Harriger, B. C. (2016, June), Leveraging Industry Partnerships to Create New Educational Focused Laboratory Facilities Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25560

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