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Creation and Integration of a New Manufacturing Lab into the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum
The new lab addressed the need for improvement identified by the ME Industrial Advisory Board. The Board is strongly influenced by small- and medium-sized manufacturers in northwest Pennsylvania. The board identified a need for improvement in the following areas: basic manufacturing/machining, drawing interpretation, metrology/measurements, statistical process control, process capability (based on six sigma concepts), and a basic understanding of manufacturing tolerances and CNC/automation. An emphasis was placed on teaching knowledge of the aforementioned items and not skills.
The continuous improvement initiative was also in response to students. The major complaint students had over the last several years was lack of experience in machining and basic manufacturing which prevented them from completing senior design projects and hindered industry collaboration. Their complaint directly related to ABET Student Outcomes (c) and (k). The creation of the new lab and associated new equipment addresses a critical need identified by the Advisory Board and students for continuous improvement of the ME program.