ASEE NCS Conference 2019

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Increasing Mechanical Engineering Technology Students’ Competency, Interest, and Motivation in Manufacturing through a Repetitive Process-Based Approach

Increasing Mechanical Engineering Technology Students’ Competency, Interest, and Motivation in Manufacturing through a Repetitive Process-Based Approach.

High quality manufacturing, specifically Computer Numerical Control (CNC) programming, turning, and machining, is difficult to simulate at the university level. Typically, single part projects are assigned, programmed, machined, and lastly, graded by the professor. The problem with the typical method is the “A” through “F” grading structure used at most institutions. In industry, a “C” grade part does not pass quality control; however, in education, the “C” grade is passing. Standard grading creates a low stakes environment, which encourages some students to produce average work for a low end passing grade and thus, struggle when introduced to their first industry job where quality standards must be high.

Quality of parts is difficult to achieve as students first learn to manufacture, and often creates frustration and a lack of interest for students. The repetitive process-based approach starts students off with manufacturing small scale assemblies, where function takes priority over quality. As students continually repeat the manufacturing process, the quality of parts naturally improves. At XXXXXXX University, a repetitive process-based approach provides a model for teaching Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) students the high quality manufacturing expectations required by industry, while at the same time, increasing motivation, and providing a service for organizations.

This paper will report the steps and curriculum design used to implement a repetitive process-based approach to teach MET students the design/manufacturing process Also, an overview of the final project required in the CNC sequence will be reported. The final project requires MET students to produce a specific number of assemblies for a community organization where all parts must pass quality standards. The high quality expectations at the end of the sequence creates a culture focused on quality of parts instead of students simply passing the class with a “C” grade. A culture focused on quality requires students to turn in “A” parts or not get credit for the project. This process trains students to strive for quality because the alternative is failure, thus, mirroring industry. This method has increased pass rates and competency and increased students interest in the topic, evidenced by time spent in the CNC lab without being required.

At XXXXXXX University, there is a capstone two-semester, “Senior Design” course sequence that all MET students must take. The first semester is dedicated to design and analysis, while the second semester is dedicated to build and test. The majority of the projects require some level of CNC machining to manufacture the product. This paper will highlight the effect repetitive process-based manufacturing has on the advancement of the quality of senior projects.

Cale Polkinghorne
Northern Michigan University
United States

Michael Martin
Northern Michigan University
United States


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