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The Plant Layout Project Revisited

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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

1.473.1 - 1.473.8

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Paper Authors

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George Ioannou

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Michael P. Deisenroth

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

I .— - ...... .. Session 3257 .

.. . . . The Plant Layout Project Revisited

Michael P. Deisenroth, George Ioannou Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The plant layout project has been the mainstay of industrial engineering curriculum for many years. Yet, even today, some schools miss the educational opportunities offered by these projects. While working through the steps of the layout design process, students can be exposed to exercises in open ended problem solving, business communications, computer modeling and team participation. All of these facets of the process occur naturally. However, unless proper design of the project and its evaluation mechanisms are considered, the full benefits of the assignments will not be realized. This paper presents the plant layout project as a tool for experimental learning on a broader front - from communications through engineering design. Opportunities for exercises of various kinds are explored. Throughout the paper, the Virginia Tech layout project is discussed to provide a contextual framework for the presentation.


Today, more than ever before, there are many efforts within universities to enhance the curriculum and to provide a more meaningful and relevant educational experience for the students. Often the motivating forces for these changes are coming from outside the academic environment - from the industrial sector, fi-om state and national government, or from the students and their families. However, these changes are also being brought about by the desire of the faculty to enhance the education process -to refine “the system” so that the service that is provided is one of continuous improvement. Much of these efforts call for drastic changes in the educational process. Others are simple changes that can have substantial paybacks. This paper explores one such change - an enhancement of the projects often given in a plant layout course.

There is a need for a capstone design experience in engineering education. This experience should encompass two basic ideas. Firstly, the capstone course must encompass engineering design - the problem or problems addressed in the exercises should be open ended. There should not be a “text book solution.” Rather, the students should explore alternative solutions and alternative analysis techniques in arriving at the answer. The problems should contain both quantitative and qualitative factors - it should have areas where trade-offs must be made with respect to conflicting objectives. The process to be used in obtaining the answer is as important as the answer itself Secondly, the capstone experience should combine or integrate ideas and concepts learned in different courses. Economic analysis concepts can be combined in simulation study to provide information for decision making. Probabilistic data can be used as input to a deterministic optimization process through the use of averaging. A capstone design experience does not stand alone - it must serve as the integration agent for the discipline specific curriculum. For many years, this has been recognized as an important process in the education of industrial engineers. More recently, however, it is ---- ~’fix~~ 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings ‘.,+

Ioannou, G., & Deisenroth, M. P. (1996, June), The Plant Layout Project Revisited Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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