PITA Fiscal Year 2009 Projects - Courses and Outreach Programs

Collaborative Machining Center

Principal Investigators: Larry Hayhurst, Susan Finger,

Before Carnegie Mellon graduates can become leaders in product and business innovation we must educate them to work in multi-disciplinary teams that span the process of problem recognition and product exploration through product realization and beyond. By creating an environment in which students work with practicing engineers on real design projects, students will learn the professional skills they need to work in a multi-disciplinary team and they will also learn traditional and rapid manufacturing processes. Our students may not go into manufacturing as a profession, but success at business and product innovation requires knowledge of the product realization process.

We propose to create the Collaborative Machining Center (CMC) to support collaboration among Carnegie Mellon faculty, staff, students and industrial partners. The CMC will be designed to provide both the physical and pedagogical environment to enable students from diverse backgrounds to learn about product creation and innovation as they collaborate with industrial partners to address real-world problems. The physical environment of the CMC will have a variety of manufacturing equipment including six-axis industrial robots, computer numerical control (CNC) mills and lathes, injection molding machines, laser cutters, rapid prototyping machines and reverse engineering equipment. The space will include meeting rooms and project areas to give the teams a sense of place and continuity.

The pedagogical environment will be designed to encourage students to deepen the technical knowledge they have learned in the classroom and to explore the product realization process. Practicing engineers on the teams will act as mentors and role-models for students as they learn the professional skills they will need in the workplace.

Because the CMC focuses on product innovation, rather than production, both the faculty and industrial partners will be encouraged to support the learning and exploration processes of the students. By fostering relationships between students and potential employers, our goal is to retain our young talent in our region and make Western Pennsylvania a source of new ideas and new companies.