The goal of developing curriculum is for the ERC to have a significant impact on both the undergraduate and graduate curricula, and thereby contribute to new dimensions in teaching the engineering workforce (“Exactly the education needed, exactly when needed.”). This has been partly accomplished through the development of an undergraduate manufacturing systems concentration; undergraduate and graduate courses based on ERC research; distance learning programs with other institutions; and modification of existing courses by incorporating new material based on the ERC/RMS research results. Major accomplishments are listed below.
Our strategic plan called for the development of a Manufacturing Systems Concentration by year 5; which was accomplished. Students graduate with this Concentration each year. We continue to strive to reach an annual enrollment of 50 as the concentration becomes fully integrated into the engineering curriculum. As part of the Concentration, we developed a new undergraduate course, Manufacturing Systems Design.
Manufacturing Systems Concentration (MSC)
The undergraduate Manufacturing Systems Concentration focuses on a systems-approach to manufacturing and design for future requirements. The Concentration consists of two required core courses – the Manufacturing Systems Design course (3 credit hours); and the Manufacturing Processes course (3 credit hours). In addition, students select two elective courses, one from each of a recommended list of existing manufacturing systems and process-related courses (into which RMS modules have been integrated).
New Course Development – Manufacturing Systems Design
A new undergraduate course, Manufacturing Systems Design, based on ERC/RMS research results and which is one of the core courses of the concentration, has been developed and offered on a yearly basis since Fall, 2002. The course emphasizes the relationships between product, process, and economics. It teaches how the type of product and the product annual volume and mix affect the economic selection of the manufacturing system. The solution might be a dedicated system, FMS, RMS, or a hybrid system that combines portions of these types of systems. For example, if a product series is designed to fit mass-customization markets and the manufacturing system cannot be reconfigured to make these products, the competitive advantage of the company is lost. Predictions regarding future market variations, technology changes in products, government regulations and customer preferences are factors in the decision process. The course is now fully integrated into the curriculum as ME 483.
The ERC has created two new graduate courses currently offered based on ERC research: “Reconfigurable Manufacturing” and “Science-Base for RMS”. These two courses, developed by ERC faculty, are derived directly from the ERC interdisciplinary, engineered systems research.
The course “Reconfigurable Manufacturing” teaches the interrelations among three elements: (1) reconfigurable, modular products for mass customization, (2) reconfigurable manufacturing system that can respond to market fluctuations, and (3) responsive business models that can be rapidly changed. By integrating these three elements, manufacturing companies can flourish in the era of globalization.
The course “Science-Base for RMS” teaches RMS fundamentals spanning from system design through machines and controls, to ramp-up and inspection issues. The goal is to educate a significant core of students who become extremely well versed in the new RMS methods.
The “Reconfigurable Manufacturing” course, (ME587), was simultaneously offered to Wayne State University students through distance learning/videoconferencing and to students in the UM School of Business Administration as a “Corporate Strategy” course. Likewise, in Winter, 2005, the “Science Base for RMS” course was offered through distance learning to General Motors, Ford and Chrysler LLC. students with some of the students being as far away as Mexico.
RMS research results and content have been integrated into many courses both at the undergraduate and graduate levels since 1996. Through this widespread integration, we achieve our goal of broadly impacting the student population.