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Engineering grads face new challenges.

Engineering Grads Face New Challenges

Confronted with increasingly complex design problems, rapid change, increased global competition and rapid dissemination of information, engineers in the 1990s will be challenged like no other time in the history of manufacturing.

These changes will demand new approaches to engineering, Martin Jischke, chancellor, Univ of Missouri/Rolla, told more than 350 foundry industry leaders, professors and engineering students attending the Foundry Educational Foundation's College-Industry Conference on Nov 15-17 in Chicago.

Jischke was one of six speakers to address some 120 students from 28 FEF affiliated schools during the two-day meeting. In addition to formal presentations, the conference featured the awarding of $24,000 in scholarships and an industry information session in which graduating students met with prospective employers.

"Economic competition, demographics, increased complexity, pace and emphasis on quality have led to a growing interest in simultaneous engineering," Jischke said. "This engineering approach is one in which all of the relevant issues--materials, marketing, quality, process, manufacturing and design--are dealt with simultaneously rather than sequentially. So rather than worrying about how to make a product after it has been designed, the manufacturability question is made part of the design.

"While some might call this a 'systems' approach or a 'total life cycle' perspective, the term simultaneously engineering appears to be gaining widespread use."

Jischke called on educators and students to accept the challenge of this new approach. "The ideas of simultaneous engineering seem, to me at least, too sensible, too good to be ignored," he said. "Unfortunately, engineering education in its present form is not as well suited to this new world of simultaneous engineering as it should be. We in universities tend to be organized around the ideas of the late 19th and early 20th centuries."

Noting that "simultaneous engineering is not discipline based," Jischke listed five elements in educating engineers that would embrace the new engineering curricula:

* There would be more emphasis on the fundamentals of engineering and science and somewhat less on specialization.

* Simultaneous engineering education would pay more attention to system integration issues and interdisciplinary problem solving.

* A greater investment in more effective educational approaches in the freshman and sophomore years would be needed.

* In contrast to factual knowledge, there would be greater emphasis on developing problem-solving skills and tools for learning.

* Finally, there would be more attention to a systematic assessment of the final product.

"Simultaneous engineering is not only a goal; it is the framework with which to attack the problems manufacturing faces today," Jischke said.

Keynote Address

Also embracing the concept of simultaneous engineering was George G. Johnston, general manager, Central Foundry Div/GMC.

"Tradition is a great thing in any organization. It helps form the culture of any company," said Johnston, who delivered the keynote address. "But I'm afraid that tradition, in the way we design and develop our products for manufacturing, is a real deterrent to becoming competitive these days.

"The traditional trial and error method of designing parts was carried out not only in castings but with virtually every other part in a new car or truck. It's no wonder that it took us five to seven years to put out a new car in this country. Contrast that with the three years or less that the Japanese manufacturers take."

Every organization must do three things to succeed in today's competitive arena, according to Johnston: "You must be deadly serious about quality. You must have the collaboration of all the people. You must have a synchronous organization."

Johnston explained that the area of collaboration is where simultaneous engineering fits. "Collaboration means everyone working together toward common goals," he said. "Everyone means unions and management, hourly and salaried employees, in the plants and in the offices, customers and suppliers. Simultaneous engineering is collaboration at its most meaningful level."

Other speakers who discussed various components of simultaneous engineering included: R. Mrdjenovich, Casting Div/Ford Motor Co; G. Gigante, Waupaca Foundry; and J. R. Ponteri, Lester B. Knight & Associates. In addition, Tom Cobett, Westcast Co, discussed the challenges ahead for students embarking on a career in the foundry industry.
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Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Kanicki, David P.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Jan 1, 1990
Words:679
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