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Summer SAVY Session 3, Day 2 – Industrial Engineering: Machines at Work

Posted by on Tuesday, June 27, 2023 in blog, SAVY.

Day 2:  Industrial Engineers and their Families,

Today, we analyzed the origin of industrial engineering. In the morning, we simulated assembly lines. First, students were tasked with making engineering folders individually; materials were limited to one stapler, one tape dispenser, six rulers, six markers, and paper in each factory. Our stats were dismal: the class could only make 4 folders in 10 minutes; 70% of our products were defective, and ultimately trashed, and 23 times students were caught doing nothing because they were waiting for materials. This led to some major frustration, but through the Engineering Design Process, we agreed to redistribute materials more efficiently. Students were “rehired” for a specialized role. Staplers, tapers, drawers, and paper stackers united to create 20 folders in 10 minutes! We were thrilled by our 500% production increase. Less than 5% of our products were defective, and students were caught doing nothing 0 times. We used these stats to make connections to the ideas of systems as technology from yesterday, and we added some new words to our vocabulary: efficiency, optimize, and assembly line. Engineers later personalized the folders to hold all our course materials, so you will see our assembly line products make their way into your homes later this week! Finally, we explored industrial engineering through the lens of a historian: Who invented the assembly line? How do these original (Whitney, Olds, and Ford) industrial engineers think? What is the relationship between the field of industrial engineering and the Industrial Revolution?
In the afternoon, we simulated another version of the assembly line as if we were in the Industrial Revolution; our Factory Manager, Ms. Charlotte, ran a tight ship, so tight that students weren’t able to effectively do their jobs. Artisan workers were treated differently or better than unskilled factory workers, which led us to a discussion of ethics in engineering and systems and leadership qualities. How could Ms. Charlotte have been a kinder, more effective leader? We surmised that our leadership, collaboration skills, and morals are JUST as important to our roles as industrial engineers as being able to optimize systems like Ford.
Finally, students combined their new ideas about efficiency, optimization, and ethics to solve a Factory Design Problem. When given a list of stats about a factory and new success criteria for the Industrial Engineering Solutions, students worked in teams to create a plan that optimized the factory and was clear, ethical, and employed good leadership and communication skills.
Tonight, you could ask your engineers:
  • Review: Describe the emergence of industrial engineering and its relationship to the Industrial Revolution. Was the industrial revolution mostly good or mostly bad? The assembly line? Why is it important for engineers to be ethical AND efficient?
  • Think Like an Industrial Engineer: After trying our new system for the mornings, what improvements need to be made? What data might prove our system is more efficient?
  • Design: Explain your Industrial Engineering Solution to the Factory Design Problem. What was the biggest issue in the factory? How did you solve it? What subsystems does your system (solution) include? Outline the input, output, boundaries, and interactions of your system.
I can’t wait to see you tomorrow!
Ms. Whiting