Danny Mann, Kris Dick 2016-08-24 03:59:22
At the University of Manitoba, all engineering students complete a common preliminary year and then spend the remaining three years of their degree program in a specific department. As of May 2016, undergraduate enrollment in the biosystems engineering department was approximately 125, and student numbers are expected to increase in September 2016. Our biosystems engineering department is growing, and we’re committed to providing an exceptional student experience. The department has a long history of innovative teaching in engineering design. About 15 years ago, we introduced three design courses to the core of the program to provide a dedicated design experience each year. In the original conception, students were to experience three industry design projects with increasing expectations in each year, essentially providing an opportunity for mastery learning of the engineering design process. Technical communication was integrated into these courses to teach students the importance of communication skills when interacting with industry clients. In 2010, the last two design courses were re-configured into a two-semester, year-long Capstone course to enable teams of four or five students to prepare a conceptual design and then fabricate a prototype as a means of validating the conceptual design. Students are provided with basic training in fabrication processes, including welding, woodworking, copper pipe soldering, and sheet metal, so that they can fabricate their prototypes under the supervision and guidance of the shop technicians and instructor. In the fall term, each student works from a set of drawings to make the parts and assemble a small project that includes all of the skills mentioned above. Students are typically amazed by how much their designs change from the conceptual design prepared at the end of the fall semester to the prototype that’s constructed by the end of the winter semester. A recent project came to us from McCain Foods’ French fry production facility in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. McCain asked for assistance with a dumping station for potatoes and fries that fall off the line. The design involved ergonomic considerations, mechanical systems, and had to be easy to clean. McCain is now implementing the students’ design. An additional project was an inspection station that required our students to evaluate ergonomic aspects and design an improved station that reduced worker fatigue. Beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year, a fourth core design course is being introduced into the curriculum. In Design 1, students are introduced to fundamentals of safety engineering and human factors engineering so they learn to consider these principles from the beginning in every design problem. In Design 2, we introduce reverse engineering as a tool to deduce design features from previously designed products or systems. Considerations such as design for sustainability and design for disassembly are introduced. In Design 3, students prepare a preliminary design for an industry client based on a real industry problem. Finally, in Design 4, students have the opportunity to validate their conceptual solution through prototype fabrication and testing. Our core design courses play a prominent role in developing several graduate attributes mandated by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board, including design experience, teamwork, and communication skills. “Our management team had two issues to address: the process by which we move waste potatoes from the floor to waste containers using wheelbarrows, and the ergonomics around the area where potatoes are removed from the line. “One aspect of the wheelbarrow project that really stood out was the prototyping that took place with full-size models to reflect different areas of the manufacturing floor. These models helped the group develop a fully functioning prototype that addressed all of our needs and made the implementation incredibly simple. “The most impressive aspect of the ergonomic project was the large study the students undertook to review several aspects of the current state and the proposed solution. The simplicity of the solution required very little modification to the existing booth. However, it produced huge results in the comfort and overall well-being of the people who work in that area. “The entire McCain management team was very impressed with the final outcomes. Both projects are being implemented in our Portage facility, as they address all of our issues. I highly recommend this program to all businesses looking to solve any process issues. The value for the industry partner and for the students involved is enormous.” ―Eric Durand, P.Eng. Engineering Manager, McCain Foods
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