June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.1362.1 - 15.1362.19
Western Washington University’s Hybrid Bus – A Multidisciplinary Approach to Project-Based Education
Western Washington University (WWU) has initiated a research, design and build project that is focusing on providing a fuel efficient, low floor, hybrid electric shuttle bus that is intended for a variety of applications. The primary R&D team is comprised of undergraduate students and faculty from the Engineering Technology (ET) Department and industry representatives from key areas. The design process has intentionally followed a multidisciplinary approach which seeks to utilize skills and capabilities from a range of students across the ET Department, and will soon reach out to work with students and faculty in the Chemistry, Decision Sciences and Marketing departments here on campus. The multidisciplinary team concept helps students to recognize the importance of bringing people with areas of specialized expertise together to collaboratively solve problems, while gaining an appreciation for alternative perspectives.
While the concept of project-based instruction is not new, the project at hand is unique in that it is providing the students the opportunity to apply the theoretical concepts obtained in the classroom to a real world application that is headed for production implementation. Transit groups from around Washington State have come together to assist in defining a set of desired requirements that current products are failing to meet, which include improved fuel economy levels, efficient handling of disabled passengers, and driver and service operational enhancements. This same group is committing to purchasing initial production units once the new vehicle has successfully passed Federal Transit Administration (FTA) certification testing. The project provides exposure to a very real industry application which is similar to what many of the students will face when entering their career fields, and will allow for practical application of project planning, design innovation, budgeting, working with industry standards and government regulations, as well as manufacturing process planning and execution.
An industrial approach is being utilized for the design process which emphasizes use of several automotive industry best practices including Quality Function Deployment (QFD), Design Failure Mode Effects and Analysis (DFMEA), as well as Design for Manufacturing, Design for Assembly, Design for Service, and Design for Sustainability, which are all components of industry accepted quality management tools and the “six sigma” philosophy. The R&D team has been set up to model a “skunkworks” approach, which was developed during World War II by engineers at Lockheed Martin who were looking to deliver a jet fighter to the US government in a short time period. This approach has been successfully used in automotive projects, and other disciplines, and is characterized by its autonomous structure with empowered workers who move quickly to resolve issues, leverage expertise from outside of the core team (ie. multidisciplinary approach), and are able to accelerate product design and development activities in comparison to more conventional approaches.
Fleishman, S. (2010, June), Western Washington University's Hybrid Bus A Multidisciplinary Approach To Project Based Education Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/15650
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