RCNGM Leader: John Hoyle, Machine Drafting
Howell Cheney Technical High School
Externship: Baldwin Pegalas Furniture
I presented this curriculum to an integrated group of diverse 10 th graders â€“ this group included 14 students of whom 5 were female. I used examples of actual products in stages of process-development to help explain the importance and concept of Modular Design. Students were given examples of everyday modular products including Leggo blocks, modular robotic components (fischertechnics). In addition to these products, students performed internet searches to find other products which they believed to be modular â€“ their search results were printed and discussed by all members of the class.
This was a very rewarding lesson which created very animated discussion on the criteria for modular design.
We also discussed various pros and cons of modular design: does it limit product creativity? Does it create a manufacturing environment that is overly focused on a single product and not able to adapt to changes in product definition?
As a real-world example we focused on the Maxwell Baldwin pergola designs;
Students saw first-hand the incredible job which Baldwin has achieved in both creating a quality product as well as using modular components to reduce manufacturing costs.
Some common items in the unique Baldwin environment are:
And these in turn, increase efficiency. Increased efficiency allows greater competitiveness.
We also recognize that:
Modular design can cause increased costs in re-tooling when changing part designs outside the spectrum of the basic module.
Modular Design of product presented a wide range of manufacturing tie-ins for students. Just as each student has a unique interest, so too each student found a unique product group to focus on. Students with interest in computers readily found examples of modular components; those interested in ATVâ€™s likewise readily found examples. We had students who enjoyed mountain biking who found components which appeared to have a modular basis.
The all too rare commodity of student enthusiasm was readily apparent in these discussions. We effectively took a students interests and enthusiasm and projected it directly into the manufacturing world.
Using Autocad Inventor a parametric modeling program, students were able to create parts with variables for changing parts sizes and thus to generate a family of parts. Using this basic module â€“ students created assembled puzzles which conform to the concept of modularity of design.
Final Thoughts / Conclusions
This was one of the most interesting projects that I have had in all of my years in industry. The students picked up on my enthusiasm and became very focused and enthusiastic themselves. Having a concept that they could grasp and expand on created interest. I have seldom seen students as focused on a manufacturing topic as they were on the modular concept.
This project should be continued to allow further contact with Baldwin and more student involvement.
Best of all, the modular concept allowed students to project their own interests onto a manufacturing environment and envision the various stages of a products design, manufacture, assembly, and transport. This interest can be built upon to create our next generation of manufacturing professionals.