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Transforming Curriculum for Workforce Development in Green Plastics Manufacturing Technology (GPMT) for STEM: Lesson Learned

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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

NSF Grantees Poster Session I

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Spencer Seung Kim Rochester Institute of Technology (CAST)

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Dr. Spencer Kim is an Associate Professor in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Technology Department (MMET) at RIT, and serves as Associate Director of American Packaging Corporation Center for Packaging Innovation at RIT. He previously worked in the semiconductor industry. Dr. Kim, as a PI or Co-PI, received grants and sponsorship from NSF, SME, SPE, universities, and industries. In 2009 and 2013, he was nominated for the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching, RIT’s premiere teaching award at RIT. Dr. Kim has directed numerous undergraduate research projects and several students won the first place in the undergraduate and graduate research competitions at the 2012 and 2013 GPEC (Global Plastics Environment Conference; Division of Society of Plastics Engineers).

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Elizabeth Dell Rochester Institute of Technology (COE)

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Professor Dell is an associate professor in the Manufacturing & Mechanical Engineering Technology department at RIT. She serves as the Faculty Associate to the Provost for Women Faculty and is co-PI for RIT's NSF ADVANCE project. Her research interests include: characterization of biodegradable plastics and environmental consideration in materials selection for production design, the impact of technology paired with active learning pedagogies on student learning, and effective strategies for increasing gender diversity in STEM disciplines.

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Plastics manufacturing technology is a multidisciplinary field that deals with product design, prototyping and modeling, production and process design, materials testing and characterization, process automation and robotics, and quality control. “Green Plastics Manufacturing Technology (GPMT)” is an emerging discipline that encompasses a range of activities, from research and development of non-toxic and eco-friendly materials to the reduction of waste and pollution through changing patterns of production and consumption.

The primary goal of the NSF project (DUE-1044794) was to transform the current materials and manufacturing curriculum to keep pace with the new green technologies in the manufacturing and mechanical engineering technology programs at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). The major activities of the project were focused on developing an instruction model for materials and manufacturing curriculum in the mechanical and manufacturing engineering technology programs; we implemented pedagogy in active learning to develop learning modules for the class and lab activities; we redesigned an existing co-op program for undergraduates to promote research experiences in GPMT for STEM. Therefore, the outcomes of the project can help students develop skill sets for various career pathways in green manufacturing technology.

The outcomes of the project were assessed and evaluated in terms of learning effectiveness achieved by the students who participated in the activities in class or lab, the contribution of the project to STEM education, and the recruitment of women and minority students for STEM. We found that the new instruction model interfaced with POGIL approach improved students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills significantly, and the re-designed-improved courses contributed to students’ learning in the GPMT concepts in materials and manufacturing. The benefits of co-op opportunities were clear in education: students could better clarify and focus their career interests and, therefore, they could directly relate practical experiences to career interests for their future. We have continued to offer the co-op and to promote undergraduate research opportunities in GPMT. Subsequently, the outreach program of the GPMT project was very effective to stimulate high school participants’ interests to consider the field of engineering technology as their major and to comprehend understanding of green materials in engineering practices. We will report more details in the outcomes and results from the project.

Kim, S. S., & Dell, E. (2016, June), Transforming Curriculum for Workforce Development in Green Plastics Manufacturing Technology (GPMT) for STEM: Lesson Learned Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27076

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