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The Trp Funded Integrated Manufacturing Laboratories At Ccny

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.431.1 - 2.431.7

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Paper Authors

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Gary Benenson

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Benjamin Liaw

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

Session 3663

The TRP-Funded Integrated Manufacturing Laboratories at CCNY

Benjamin Liaw and Gary Benenson The City College of The City University of New York

Abstract With the opportunity of funding from ARPA-NSF TRP (Technology Reinvestment Project), faculty and students at the City College of the City University of New York (CCNY) completely overhauled several teaching laboratories related to manufacturing education in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. This two-year effort started in early 1994 and more than $200,000 (along with countless personnel hours) has been invested into these laboratories, which are used in several required courses in our ME curriculum. Modern equipment procured for these laboratories is used for education in CNC machining, robotics, computer-integrated manufacturing, flexible manufacturing cells, and mechatronics using programmable logic controllers (PLC’s) and microcontrollers for measurement and control. Perhaps the most unique feature of our approach is the very extensive involvement of students (both graduate and undergraduate) in all phases of the project. From the very beginning students formed teams, each of which took charge of a major piece of equipment. They participated in the planning of manufacturing courses; got involved in the selection process of equipment purchase; learned to operate the equipment; developed laboratory projects suitable for the courses; communicated with vendors for technical support and the purchase of other accessories and supplies; negotiated among themselves to build consensus; tested their products; wrote users’ manuals; served as course facilitators to implement their projects; conducted periodic reviews with other students using their projects; and finally, provided written reports to assess the projects and make suggestions for future improvement. In general, the full cycle of this “student-centered learning” process takes about six to eight months. During this process, faculty participants and senior graduate students served not in the traditional role of leaders and/or supervisors, but as coaches and consultants. Toward the end of these manufacturing projects, student participants usually had learned more about the equipment than the faculty participants. They knew about not only how to operate the equipment correctly, but also how to maintain and repair it properly. Such know-how, which usually is not described clearly enough in the owner’s manual that came with the equipment, can certainly help our department to maintain these laboratories with a reasonable budget. In a nutshell, the reversal of roles in the teaching-learning relation and our full-engagement approach to training in the operation and maintenance of manufacturing equipment enable us to gain complete knowledge about our manufacturing facilities. Such skills are rarely gained if a manufacturing laboratory is only equipped with “turn-key” equipment and the users (both faculty and students) can only follow “cook-book” type manuals to operate the equipment.

Benenson, G., & Liaw, B. (1997, June), The Trp Funded Integrated Manufacturing Laboratories At Ccny Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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