Class integration represents historical first at Kettering.

Jul 10, 2002

Kettering Professors Lucy King and Jackie El-Sayed are not history buffs, but the integration of their classes made history at Kettering spring term.

Kettering Professors Lucy King and Jackie El-Sayed are not history buffs, but the integration of their classes made history at Kettering spring term.

King, who is a professor and program director of Manufacturing Engineering, and El-Sayed, an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering (ME), brought together students from El-Sayed's MECH-312 Machine Design class and King's MFGG-490 Robotics class to develop a prototype gripper for a robot. To get students working together quickly and efficiently during the 11-week term, both professors scheduled concurrent labs in which all students participated and presented progress reports on their individual group efforts.

"During third week in April, Lucy's students gave presentations to my students regarding design requirements," El-Sayed explained. "Then my students gave their design proposals to Lucy's students in fourth week. After that, they work in groups to complete their projects before the end of the term."

King also said that students then manufactured parts based on a specific budget and met to assemble prototypes. This was followed by the attachment of prototypes to robots, which were used when programming the robot. Students evaluated designs, made final team presentations and determined the best project at the conclusion of the term.

Although a number of professors at the University have worked together on various classroom projects, this initiative represents the first time professors from Mechanical Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering brought their students together to work on a single endeavor during the term. El-Sayed said that even though the effort took more time than expected, she and King expedited the process, which allowed them to obtain project results in a short period of time. They will then use these results in a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant proposal ready for submission in July to help further fund future class projects.

For students, the project was extremely challenging and revealed secretes of how to work with people with diverse engineering backgrounds. Additionally, students were responsible for developing gripper designs and prototypes based on a specific budget, which required them to conduct in-depth research to come up with a cost-effective design.

Kelly Kuzak, a senior majoring in Manufacturing Engineering, said that the activity displayed the importance of "communication, teamwork and why engineers need to remain open to new ideas and changes." Kuzak also said that the project emulated the real-life engineering environment in which many of them will soon work. Overall, all students felt that the project allowed them to practice the type of work they expect to engage in once they graduate from college and helped them incorporate what they learned in El-Sayed's and King's classes. As a first-time effort, the integration of these classes was successful and will only become better in the future.

"For a historical 'first,' this project worked well," King said. "Students were given a kind of first-hand appreciation of how to work in various engineering environments with people from various engineering fields and were enthusiastic about the work. "El-Sayed agreed, adding, "We expect to fine-tune this effort with each class and hope to expose more and more students to the way engineers from different fields work together to develop a successful product."

Written by Gary J. Erwin, director of Publications
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