Designing for the 'factory of the future'

April 24, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As a stepping stone to improve automation in its factories, Lockheed Martin asked Engineering Design (EDSGN) 100: Introduction to Engineering Design students to design a solution to one of five different challenges it currently faces during aircraft assembly.

During the spring semester, EDSGN 100 students were divided into teams and asked to choose between the five different assignments Lockheed Martin defined under the banner of “Factory of the Future.”

The wire- and cable-routing project challenged students to design a customizable formboard that is easily and quickly configurable for routing wires and building cable harnesses for various cable designs. A foreign object debris (FOD) identification and retrieval project asked students to design a tool or instrument that would help in the detection, identification and removal of FOD in aircraft. For the multi-driver application project, students were tasked with designing an adjustable and easy-to-use tool that can unscrew two or more screws at one time. The open-source-tracking project challenged students to design a concept, method or tool for an automated asset management, material tracking and space utilization system in a makerspace. The final project opportunity asked students to design a customizable, 3D-printed hardware mount to hold circuit cards and mechanical structures of various shapes and sizes.

According to Paul Mittan, specialty hardware engineering manager at Lockheed Martin and an electrical engineering alumnus of Penn State, Lockheed Martin hopes these projects serve as inspirations for first-year engineering students and encourage their excitement for engineering.

“We hope students gain a better understanding of the design process and learn how to effectively work together as a multi-disciplinary team,” Mittan said. “We have proposed challenging projects that cover a wide array of technical domains to foster an environment where diversity of thought and teamwork will be essential to creating a solution. Above all else, we hope students learn about different engineering disciplines and use this experience to help solidify their decision to pursue the engineering degree of their choice and, one day, a position with Lockheed Martin.”

Once student teams selected a project, they began working on project deliverables, including a technical report and a model or prototype that showcases how end users will interact with the product or tool.

According to Sven Bilén, head of the School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs, and professor of engineering design, electrical engineering and aerospace engineering, client-centered projects provide students and companies with opportunities to innovate, network and establish better understandings of each other.

“What’s great about these projects is that, from a faculty standpoint, we’re also learning along with the students,” Bilén said. “We don’t know the answers because the companies ask us to do an interesting design project and a lot of times we are learning an area that we don’t know that much, or anything, about. A lot of these projects are about the future that these students are helping create, so it’s very interesting to see what they come up with.”

Final projects will be on display at the College of Engineering Design Showcase, held Thursday, April 26, at the Bryce Jordan Center.

For more information about the Design Showcase, please visit the Bernard M. Gordon Learning Factory website.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 25, 2018