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Tools for Transformation Funded Proposals

Integrated Learning Factory

College of Engineering

The Integrated Learning Factory (ILF) provides a unique learning setting combining hands-on experience with analytical skills needed in the design and implementation of industrial products and processing. At the factory, students focus on team-oriented, experiential problem-solving and open-ended design.

The use of the ILF will be greatly expanded and new equipment will be purchased to meet the needs of additional courses, and to allow the upgrading of existing courses (including ENGR 100 and ME 295). Funds will also be used to develop modules for the capstone design sequence.

Contact: James Riley
Professor and Acting Chair
Mechanical Engineering
Allocation: $142,275
Date Funded: September 1998


The Integrated Learning Factory (ILF) exists as one part of a pilot program in design manufacturing engineering. The focus of the laboratory is to promote the mastery of engineering design skills via experiential learning. To accomplish this, engineering design experience is integrated into each level of the curriculum as the student progresses towards an undergraduate degree.

In engineering practice, the cumulation of the design process is product realization. The goal of the ILF activity is to teach engineering design through the medium of product realization. As such, the ILF attempts to recreate all of the major processes that occur in design studios and on the factory floor. By learning each of the steps required to achieve a successful product design in a structured, realistic environment, the student is ultimately able to successfully step into the world of the practicing engineer.

"Tools" resources are being used to move the laboratory to the next level. This is through the development of interdisciplinary projects that combine expertise from several departments, specific curriculum revisions aimed at introducing experiential learning into existing and new courses, developing outreach to industry to obtain guidance for the laboratory and sponsored projects, and use of the laboratory as a research tool in the development of new learning methodologies.

Through the establishment of an Oversight Committee that spans the College of Engineering, a number of projects requiring cross-disciplinary expertise have been identified. These are being implemented within available space in the ILF. A "clearing house" is being established to facilitate the matching of project technical needs with students seeking projects.

The most significant curriculum revision involves ENGR 100, the first-year introduction to design course. The principal goals of this revision are to: develop consistency from quarter-to-quarter, increase the intellectual challenge, and show a relation between design and science/math fundamentals. "Tools" has aided one part of this transformation. The first goal has been reached by adopting a new organizational structure that centralizes curriculum decisions. The latter two goals have been realized by developing detailed, multi-component projects that require the application both fundamental theory and quantitative engineering analysis. These modifications have already met with strong signs of approval on the part of the students. Numerical class ratings have improved significantly, and written comments reflect the challenge of the course and its value to the students. Also, in the last two quarters demand has exceeded available space, and enrollment is running generally 50% ahead of a year ago.

The ILF Oversight Committee is working on three focus areas for industrial affiliation. These are (1) institutionalizing the soliciting, setup, and execution of industrially-sponsored projects, (2) the development of mechanisms for industrial input into ILF strategy, and (3) the use of industry as a resource for the support of the ILF.

The theme common to all ILF activities is experiential learning. As such, the ILF should be at the forefront in facilitating academic research on learning methodologies and outcome assessment. A collaboration with the newly established Center for Engineering Education Learning and Teaching (CELT) have already begun regarding some laboratory activities, particularly with respect to ENGR 100. The results of these activities have already led to changes in ENGR 100 curriculum.

Tools for Transformation Funded Proposals