Interdisciplinary Automated Manufacturing Laboratory
1996 Annual Conference Proceedings
There is a need in industry for technology graduates who can use a combination of electrical and mechanical concepts in the design, installation, and service of products and production systems. Preparing Associate Degree graduates for this role is difficult because four semesters is too short for extensive education in both disciplines. Penn State Altoona Campus addressed this problem by: 1) modifying three courses offered at the Associate Degree level to include concepts that bridge the two
... hnologies; and 2) introducing a new four-year degree program, Bachelor of Science in Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology (BSEMET), in the Fall, 1994, semester. The solution to the training problem created two major pedagogical problems. The first problem was to properly deliver the interdisciplinary content in the three modified courses. While the courses covered both product design and production system design and had a mix of electrical and mechanical concepts, there was no effort to use the same product examples in all three courses. The second problem was teaching standard 16 student laboratory sections with single production machines and integrated manufacturing systems. This paper proposes two initiatives that would overcome the instructional delivery problems associated with cross training in electro-mechanical concepts and the use of large automated manufacturing systems in traditional laboratory sections. These initiatives involve: 1) the integration of a product design problem into manufacturing courses; 2) the development of a laboratory environment that permits standard laboratory class sizes of 16 students to effectively use single production machines and integrated manufacturing systems. The second problem is significant because many colleges add manufacturing systems to laboratories but few address the training issues associated with integrated manufacturing systems hardware in standard laboratory sections.