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Spurring Innovation in a Sustainable Manufacturing Course

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Green and Sustainable Manufacturing Education

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Paper Authors


Young B. Moon Syracuse University

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Young B. Moon is Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse University and serves as Kauffman Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He holds a BS degree from Seoul National University, a MS degree from Stanford University and a PhD degree from Purdue University. His professional interests include CyberManufacturing Systems, Sustainable Manufacturing, Product Realization Processes and Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems, Systems Modeling and Simulation, Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), and Engineering Education.

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Mingtao Wu Syracuse University

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Mingtao Wu is a PhD student in Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, College of Engineering and Computer Science, Syracuse University.

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A course on sustainable manufacturing has been developed and offered since 2010 at XYZ University. In the course, a comprehensive definition of manufacturing is adopted, covering not only material transformation processes but also any activities that are needed to support manufacturing such as product development and design, manufacturing systems design and operation, and supply chain systems design and operation. With such a comprehensive definition of manufacturing along with the comprehensive nature of sustainability, a radically different approach was necessary in order to effectively educate students on sustainable manufacturing. Innovation is emphasized and promoted throughout the course, as Albert Einstein succinctly put, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Students have numerous opportunities to devise their innovative solutions while they develop new sustainable products, starting from ideation, to concept generation, to product design, to selection of manufacturing processes, and ultimately to fabrication of physical prototypes. Therefore, how to spur innovative minds among students has been the main challenge of the course. Four main methods have been devised and adopted to spur innovation: (i) by explaining the criticality of sustainability issues, (ii) by sharing existing and conceived examples and solutions, (iii) by providing practical methods, and (iv) by imposing thoughtful constraints.

This paper presents the learning objectives, contents and approaches of the course, how those four methods have been implemented in the course, and the preliminary analyses of the effectiveness of those methods in spurring students’ innovation potential as exhibited in their learning.

Moon, Y. B., & Wu, M. (2016, June), Spurring Innovation in a Sustainable Manufacturing Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25861

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