Integrating Undergraduate Learning in Engineering and Business to Improve Manufacturing Education

Faisal Aqlan
Associate Professor and Program Director
University of Louisville

Manufacturing is undergoing the greatest change in more than 100 years, and the current skills gap causes serious concerns about the ability of manufacturers to fill critical positions. Manufacturing needs a well-trained workforce that possesses skills like problem-solving and critical thinking to make effective decisions at all stages of the manufacturing process. Traditional manufacturing curricula tend to focus on a specific discipline rather than viewing manufacturing as a connected, systemic process needed to make decisions with respect to the entire product development life cycle. This study investigates this by answering the following questions 1) do students understand product manufacturing as a connected, systemic process? 2) which manufacturing knowledge areas, if any, are students deficient? and 3) do knowledge gaps exist for both engineering and business students? This research proposes a holistic design approach for manufacturing education to provide students with an integrated view of how products in the real world metamorphose from an idea into the hands of end-consumers. A dynamic decision-making framework integrating product manufacturing topics across engineering and business courses is developed. The framework focuses on process-thinking and decision-making in the context of entire product life cycle (i.e., product design, manufacturing process, manufacturing system, and business process). Utilizing Understanding by Design model, we established clear learning outcomes associated with students’ general understanding of manufacturing knowledge in connection with product development life cycle based on Bloom taxonomy (i.e., remember and understand). Then, the team created an assessment that provides acceptable evidence for the defined learning outcomes. Finally, learning modules were developed to introduce the related manufacturing topics.


Daniell DiFrancesca, Penn State Behrend, Erie PA; Qi Dunsworth, Penn State Behrend, Erie PA; Chetan Nikhare, Penn State Behrend, Erie PA; Mohammad Rasouli, Penn State Behrend, Erie PA; Matthew Swinarski, Penn State Behrend, Erie PA