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The Seamless Pathway: A Partnership Between Community, Industry, and Academia

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

College Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1244.1 - 24.1244.8



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Paper Authors


M. Austin Creasy Purdue University (Statewide Technology)

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Dr. M. Austin Creasy is an assistant professor
of mechanical engineering technology
at Purdue University.

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Joseph P. Fuehne Purdue University at Columbus

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Joe Fuehne received a B.S. degree in aeronautical/astronautical engineering in 1983 from the University of Illinois and M.S. (1988) and Ph.D. (1990) degrees in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University. In between undergraduate and graduate school, he worked for two years in the flight test department at McDonnell Aircraft Company in various locations, including the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River in Maryland and the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force base in California. During graduate school, Dr. Fuehne focused his efforts on finite element analysis of laminated composite materials. After graduate school, Dr. Fuehne spent seven years in Houston, Texas, working for the Cooper Cameron Corporation doing finite element analysis on oil field equipment, including wellheads, blow-out preventers, and subsea pipeline connectors. From 1998 to 2002, Dr. Fuehne performed similar work on automobile exhaust systems for the ArvinMeritor Inc. in Columbus, Ind. In January of 2002, he accepted a position as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering technology for Purdue University at their satellite campus in Columbus, Ind. Since then, Dr. Fuehne has taught 12 different classes in the MET department and authored papers on real-world applications in thermodynamics, assessment practices targeted at ABET accreditation, and K-12 outreach programs. He also has received several grants that have supported K-12 outreach programs and is part of a team that’s offering a graduate education class to elementary school teachers that aims to improve science education at the elementary-school level.

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The Seamless Pathway: A Partnership Between Community, Industry, and AcademiaManufacturing is the dominant economic activity within southeastern Indiana. Nearly 1 in 3employed citizens within a ten county region of this part of the state are directly employed bymanufacturing companies. The local workforce, however, has not improved to satisfy the need ofthose employers and a local initiative, Economic Opportunities through Education by 2015(EcO15), was created in 2008 to address that deficiency. The main objective of the initiative wasto move residents up one level in their education, training, and/or job placement. One of theprogram’s primary successes was bringing Project Lead the Way (PLTW) programs and classesto every public high school in the ten-county region. PLTW is a pre-engineering, high schoolcurriculum that promotes engineering careers through a rigorous curriculum of engineeringdesign and analysis. Since 2008, student enrollment in PLTW classes in this mostly rural, 10-county region has increased over 900 percent while overall STEM enrollment has increased 30percent. High school graduation rates have also increased over that period from 80.9 percent to86.5 percent.The EcO15 initiative also created a program called the Seamless Pathway that endeavored tocreate certain pathways from high school to college to employment at a manufacturing company.As part of that program, the local university faculty are engaged with teachers and students attwo of the local high schools. A faculty member is team-teaching a PLTW course calledComputer-Integrated Manufacturing (CIM). Teachers and students spend a part of the year onthe local campus utilizing computer numerical control (CNC) and measurement tools notavailable on the high school campus. There have also been significant investments in post-secondary education in the area because of this program. For the local university, this hasspecifically meant a new, environmentally-controlled metrology lab, a new CNC mill, and a newCNC lathe. These investments have given the faculty the means of engaging these types ofSTEM courses offered in high schools and developing the post-secondary curriculum toincorporate these investments.This paper describes the Seamless Pathway in detail. This paper describes how communityeducational leaders, industry, and academia have partnered together through this program toenhance the learning opportunities for local students and meet the workforce educational needsof industry. The administrative challenges and faculty experiences will be presented anddiscussed. The outcomes and successes of the program will be shared as well as the challenges.The paper will conclude by discussing where the program is headed and how the partnershipsformed because of this program is benefitting industry and academia.

Creasy, M. A., & Fuehne, J. P. (2014, June), The Seamless Pathway: A Partnership Between Community, Industry, and Academia Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23177

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