A Holistic Design Approach for Integrated Learning in Manufacturing Education

Faisal Aqlan, Daniell DiFrancesca, Qi Dunsworth, Chetan Prabhakar, Matthew Swinarski, Mohammad Rasouli

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Manufacturing makes a tremendous contribution to the U.S. economy by increasing gross domestic product and creating high-paying jobs as well as supporting all other sectors. The integrated nature of manufacturing is evident in its symbiotic relationship with innovation, national security, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. Moreover, manufacturing is increasingly important to the balanced education of engineers in all disciplines. However, today's 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. One of the fundamental skills is to make good decisions at early stages that facilitate, not impede, the manufacturing process down the road. Traditional curricula designs tend to focus on a specific discipline, creating a silo effect rather than viewing manufacturing as a connected, systemic process needing decisions made with respect to the entire product development life cycle. This study investigates this belief by 1) examining if students understand product manufacturing as a connected, systemic process, 2) exploring in which manufacturing knowledge area, if any, students are deficient, and 3) analyzing if these knowledge gaps exist for both engineering and business students. To study these possible gaps, 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 to highlight system thinking and decision making in the context of the entire product life cycle (i.e., product design, manufacturing process, manufacturing system, and business process). Utilizing the Understanding by Design model, we first established clear learning objectives associated with students' basic understanding of manufacturing knowledge in connection with product development life cycle based on Bloom's taxonomy (i.e., remember and understand). Next, the team created an assessment to collect acceptable evidence for the defined learning outcomes. Finally, learning modules were created by an interdisciplinary team of instructors to introduce the related manufacturing topics. A pilot study with current engineering and business undergraduate courses was conducted and pre- and post-survey data was collected and analyzed. The results of the study and insights from the research team are provided at the end of the paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Aug 23 2022
Event129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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