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Teaching Manufacturing As Concurrent Engineering Design

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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

1.420.1 - 1.420.7

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Paper Authors

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John T. Berry

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Gregory L. Ferguson

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

Session 3263

Teaching Manufacturing As Concurrent Engineering Design

Gregory L. Ferguson/John T. Berry The University of Alabama/ Mississippi State University

Abstract The National Research Council’s report on Competitive Design stressed that teaching and practicing Concurrent Engineering is the best way for America to improve its global economic position. A central theme of concurrent engineering is the consideration of manufacturing process design in the early phases of the overall system design. Unfortunately, over the years, courses teaching manufacturing process have been removed from many undergraduate curriculums. The University of Alabama now offers an integrated pair of courses on manufacturing processes and design. A central theme behind the courses is that manufacturing topics are cast in a concurrent engineering design context. The introductory first course is taught at the junior level, while the second course is a more comprehensive senior offering. Both courses require the student to participate in design and build projects. The students are placed in teams and must learn to communicate and work effectively in the team environment. Further, both courses make use of the state’s educational manufacturing resources in a novel, collaborative arrangement. This approach allows the institutions to better leverage state resources which allowed The University to implement these courses without purchasing new manufacturing lab equipment.

Introduction The United States’ negative trade balance has steadily increased over the last several decades. The National Research Council report Improving Engineering Design [1] cites manufacturing goods as a primary contributor of the trade deficit. They concluded the best way to correct this is for concurrent engineering techniques to be practiced by industry and taught by the engineering educational establishment. Manufacturing courses taught in the traditional hands-on laboratory format have fallen from vogue as they were viewed, often unfairly, as lacking sufficient scientific content. As a consequence, many engineering schools dismantled their manufacturing process laboratories. Attempting to rebuild the labs is prohibitively expensive, especially in light of budget concerns and the explosion in new equipment technologies. Another complaint about traditional manufacturing courses having a “hands-on” lab was that it only trained students to be “shade tree mechanics” and not “real engineers”. Simply reimplementing the traditional course can not overcome these deficiencies. Several curriculums have implemented a lecture based survey course to make students aware of manufacturing topics. Lecture courses, by their very nature, are incapable of conveying an appreciation for manufacturing issues that the hands-on labs can achieve in a limited fashion. In either case, the traditional approach does not convey the interaction needed between the product and manufacturing process design stems necessary to produce a successful product. The student is expected to make this connection intuitively.

While many colleges and universities have lost their manufacturing facilities, vocational and technical schools have done better in maintaining and even improving their capacities by incorporating new technologies and equipment into their programs. Also, many states have, or are in the process of establishing, manufacturing

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Berry, J. T., & Ferguson, G. L. (1996, June), Teaching Manufacturing As Concurrent Engineering Design Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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