Additional division projects

Assessing the learning gains of manufacturing students in an integrated hands-on curriculum

This National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project is motivated by industry’s identification of the lack of hands-on experience as one of the major competency gaps in engineering education. This widely acknowledged need has led to the development of many new engineering and technology curricula balancing theoretical knowledge with integrated hands-on experiences. While such curricula are welcome, less has been done to formally assess the learning gains specifically attributable to these new pedagogical approaches. This project builds on previous work which developed an innovative curricular model providing students with hands-on skills highly sought by industry. The model is called the Manufacturing Integrated Learning Laboratory (MILL) Model. In addition, an accompanying psychometrically validated standardized test instrument to measure student achievement on the competencies spanned by the model was developed.

This two-year project entails deploying the above test instrument at four sites that have implemented the MILL Model, as well as three additional comparison sites that have not implemented the model. Analysis of the comparative performance results of the two groups on the test will be undertaken to ascertain the learning gains attributable to implementation of the MILL Model curriculum. A repeated measures MANCOVA will be conducted to assess the magnitude of the effectiveness of the MILL Model in increasing student learning outcomes in select engineering competencies. All statistical tests will be conducted at nominal α = 0.05 level.

Dr. Mukasa E. Ssemakula  or (313) 577-8079

Enabling Technologies Laboratory Student Design Program

The Enabling Technologies Laboratory (ETL) Student Design Program is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF-CBET-1263723) for providing Wayne State University's undergraduate engineering students with the opportunity to design and create prototypes, custom designed devices, software and services to aid persons with disabilities. 

Dr. Wen Chen or 313-577-8165

Learning program for cobots in advanced manufacturing systems

“The Learning Program for Cobots in Advanced Manufacturing Systems” is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education Program. This project focuses on the use of cobots, or collaborative robots, in advanced manufacturing systems, and aims to develop critical industry-driven, hands-on learning content for cobot technicians, engineering technologists, and robotic automation teachers and faculty.

News announcement

Dr. Ana Djuric or 313-577-5387

Mill Project – Learning factory-based manufacturing education

The Manufacturing Integrated Manufacturing Laboratory (MILL) Project is a response to the documented need for engineering and technology curricula that balance analytical and theoretical knowledge with practical hands-on experience. Industry has long identified lack of hands-on experience as one of the key competency gaps among new engineering and technology graduates. The MILL concept addresses this need with particular focus on the field of manufacturing. A consortium of five departments in four institutions is involved in the current project. For a full description of the project participants, follow this link.

At the heart of the MILL concept is the use of team-based projects that help students gain hands-on experience with selected manufacturing processes. The projects start with simple components that can be made on a single machine such as a lathe or a mill, and progress to the manufacture and assembly of a fully functional mechanism. This approach introduces students to the issues involved in the design, fabrication and assembly of a non-trivial assembly. The equipment used is what is available in a typical college-level manufacturing laboratory. Multiple evaluation tools including focus groups, surveys, and direct observations, were used to assess the effectiveness of the approach used. The results indicate that this is indeed an effective way of addressing industry concerns. While this implementation is focused on manufacturing, the approach can easily be applied in other fields of engineering.

The MILL concept is an advancement of the groundbreaking Learning Factory (LF) model developed jointly by Pennsylvania State University, University of Washington, and University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. The LF model presents an integrated engineering curriculum that balances analytical and theoretical knowledge with physical facilities for product realization in an industrial-like setting. It offers traditional engineering students an alternative path to a degree that directly prepares them for careers in manufacturing, design and product realization. The LF model is not readily transferable however, due to the high cost of implementing a full-blown learning factory, and the challenge of assembling a network of local industries willing to contribute funds, time and equipment.

For more details about the original learning factory and its implementation at the pioneering institutions, visit:

Dr. Mukasa E. Ssemakula  or (313) 577-8079

Networked battery system management and control for active diagnosis, observability and resilient operation

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF-EPCN-1507096) for collaborating with the industry leaders on battery technology, electric vehicles and smart grids, we will develop a new theory of active network observers, real-time active diagnosis and localization of abnormal conditions, reconfiguration and adaptive BMS strategies.

Dr. Wen Chen or 313-577-8165

Training tomorrow's technicians in lightweight materials: properties, optimization and manufacturing processes

Wayne State University (WSU) and Washtenaw Community College (WCC) partnership is funded by the National Science Foundation (#1601261) to develop integrated curriculum in the emerging technologies surrounding lightweight materials properties, optimization and manufacturing processes. WCC is also joining with Square One Educational Network (SQ1) to develop a pipeline into lightweight manufacturing starting with K-12 students. The goal of this project is to engage industry and educators in developing a talent pipeline and initial curriculum addressing the material properties as well as optimization and manufacturing processes associated with lightweight materials at the high school and community college levels to meet emerging industry needs for technicians in the manufacturing industry. WCC, WSU and SQ1 propose to leverage the rich industry and academic resources of the region to develop integrated technician training focusing on lightweight materials properties, design for manufacturability and manufacturing processes.

Key activities for this proposal include: (1) Developing an introductory multi-disciplinary and project-based course on lightweight materials around an existing vehicle design project--SQ1 Full Scale Innovative Vehicle Design Challenge; (2) Creating interdisciplinary community college faculty and K-12 teacher professional development centered on lightweight materials properties, optimization and manufacturing processes; (3) Establishing a talent pipeline extending from K-12 to community colleges and four-year universities; and (4) Developing and contributing to a repository of lightweighting curricula. Building partnerships with industry, employers and K-12 institutions is a significant element of this proposal. WCC and WSU seek to forge new relationships with industry by seeking input and feedback on proposed faculty development and curricula content. Similarly, WCC is looking to extend existing partnerships with area K-12 schools and SQ1 to expand the pipeline into advanced manufacturing programs for high school students.

The impetus for this project came through recognizing an emerging and imminent need for employees equipped with skills in advanced manufacturing and automotive technology in the area of lightweight materials. While some of these materials have been studied and used in prototyping for years, they are now being used more broadly in production. Consequently, there is a need to translate the theoretical findings related to these materials and how they are used in design and manufacturing, into applications and implementation in production, finishing and repair. In addition to educating technicians who will be directly applying these skills and knowledge in their work, this project also addresses the critical need to teach and train the high school teachers and college faculty who will pass that knowledge on to their students. Finally, this project tackles the sustainability of the advanced manufacturing industry by facilitating engagement and recruitment of youth into the talent pipeline.

Dr. Ching-Ming Chen or 313-577-0109

Dr. Gene Liao or 313-577-8078