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Partnering Small Business Needs with Engineering Technology Education

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Industrial Collaboration and Applications

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1142.1 - 22.1142.8



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Paper Authors


Robert J. Durkin IUPUI

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Teaches Engineering Technology courses in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Technology at IUPUI.
30+ years in manufacturing as an Engineer, Engineering Manager, and General Manager of Production.
Two U.S. patents.
B.S.E.E., Indiana Institute of Technology.
M.B.A, University of Notre Dame, Magna Cum Laude.

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Partnering Small Business Needs with Engineering Technology EducationAbstract Small businesses face extremely difficult times in the current economic climate. Theyare faced with international price competition, yet are unable to afford the very resources to helpthem become more competitive. At the same time, Engineering Technology education focuseson practical engineering methods, but has few opportunities to offer students practical casestudies in which to apply their training. Today is the opportunity to match these needs, andperhaps expand the potential employment base for our students. This paper explores the development of hands-on, project-centered learning opportunitiesby applying engineering technology coursework to specific small business productivity anddesign problems. This case study describes why these needs are important, how they’resymbiotic, their evolution, what was learned, and where it should be repeated. A small manufacturer of solenoid valves approached our university for technicalassistance to determine the flow coefficient (Cv) for a number of its products. Their valve designwasn’t applicable to industry-standard Cv test methods, and they didn’t have the internalexpertise or facilities to develop an appropriate test. Under the guidance of their Fluid Powerprofessor, three junior-level Mechanical Engineering Technology students volunteered to designand build the test equipment and perform the tests. The project began with a meeting betweenthe project team and valve manufacturer, and focused on the valve design and its problem withstandard Cv test methods. Over the next seven weeks the student team designed and machinedthe equipment detail elements, welded the frame, assembled the components, wired theinstrumentation, plumbed the system, and calibrated the equipment. Product testing took anotherweek, and preliminary results were presented to the manufacturer. As a result of this project the manufacturer found the technical solution it needed in twomonths. The student team members applied their knowledge from Engineering Technologyclasses including; Fluid Power, Introduction to Design, Machine Elements, Applied Statics, andTechnical Report Writing. But beyond course content, the students gained first-hand knowledgeof all the critical phases of a capital equipment project. They participated in ‘customer’meetings. They studied the industry Cv test standard. They helped develop the project plan,timing and budget. They built the test equipment. They tested the product. They used labnotebooks to record their project experience. They wrote technical papers describing theirexperience. And most importantly, they became an Engineer for the first time.

Durkin, R. J. (2011, June), Partnering Small Business Needs with Engineering Technology Education Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18623

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