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J Intell Manuf (2011) 22:693708

DOI 10.1007/s10845-009-0329-z

Automotive engineering curriculum development:

case study for Clemson University
Laine Mears Mohammed Omar Thomas R. Kurfess

Received: 5 May 2008 / Accepted: 20 February 2009 / Published online: 22 October 2009
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Abstract The automotive manufacturing industry has Introduction

transitioned in the past 20 years from a central technical focus
to an integrated and globally distributed supply chain. As car The motor vehicle industry is the largest manufac-
makers outsource not only a greater portion of their manufac- turing industry in the United States. No other single
turing, but also their technical design responsibility, a more industry is linked so much to the US manufacturing
thorough understanding of both design and manufacturing sector or directly generates so much retail business
changes effect on total vehicle and total production system and employment. (Center for Automotive Research
performance and cost is critical. The distribution of tech- (Economics and Business Group) 2003)
nical responsibility in automotive manufacturing has moti-
vated the development of a specific curriculum in Automotive The automotive manufacturing industry has transitioned in
Engineering at Clemson University in South Carolina, USA, the past 20 years from a centralized technical focus to an
with core focus on the interaction between systems, both integrated and globally distributed supply chain. As car
in design and manufacturing. In this development, a detailed makers outsource not only a greater portion of their man-
survey of automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers and ufacturing, but also technical design responsibility, a more
major suppliers was carried out. The differences in perceived thorough understanding of both design and manufacturing
need between these organization types is explored, and the changes effect on total vehicle and total production system
incorporation of these perceived needs to a new Automotive performance and cost is critical. An understanding of sys-
Engineering curriculum is presented. tems integration, or focus on the interfaces between sys-
tems, is essential for the future success of automotive
Keywords Education Curriculum Manufacturing manufacturing.
Automotive OEM Supplier The automotive sector specific to the United States is in
transition as well. The market for automobiles produced by
international manufacturers is increasing, as shown in Fig. 1
L. Mears M. Omar T. R. Kurfess (B) (Automotive News 2008).
Clemson University-International Center for Automotive Research,
343 Campbell Graduate Engineering Center, 4 Research Drive,
International auto makers, employing a build where they
Greenville, SC 29607, USA buy philosophy bring to the manufacturing market new
e-mail: products, methods and cultures that must interface with local
L. Mears labor and suppliers. This cultural level of systems integration
e-mail: presents another dimension of understanding for the interface
M. Omar of systems.
e-mail: Additionally, consideration must be given to the geog-
raphy of plant construction and regional trends of automo-
L. Mears M. Omar T. R. Kurfess
Automotive Engineering Program,
tive manufacturing. In the 1990s, the total population of
Clemson UniversityInternational Center for Automotive Research, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennes-
Greenville, SC, USA see, and Texas (the six southern automobile manufactur-

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In the following sections, we present a motivation for

the study of Automotive Engineering as a systems integra-
tion practice by studying the need for quality improvement
and current trends of availability and use of information in
furthering flexibility and reconfigurability in manufacturing
enterprise. A case study is presented of development of a new
graduate program curriculum built on the concept of systems
integration, with input from industrial original equipment
manufacturers and suppliers. Engineering design tools are
applied to develop a technical, business and cultural frame-
work of a curriculum to educate the next generation of auto-
Fig. 1 North American sales of light vehicles by international firms motive industry leaders.
with US production facilities. This sales trend continues to increase as
more US plants are constructed by foreign firms. 20072009 data were
forecast. (Automotive news)
Recent manufacturing developments in the automotive

Intelligent quality improvement

One platform upon which to consider study of the concept

of systems integration is in the analysis of quality uniformity
across different suppliers to the automotive OEM, and appli-
cation of intelligent manufacturing systems to ensure this
quality consistency. Vosniakos et al. (2005) apply intelligent
logic programming for process planning in the automotive
domain of progressive-die sheet metal forming. The system
Fig. 2 Automobile manufacturing employment by region. Over generates and makes use of stored knowledge to check manu-
5 years, southern employment increased by 26%, while Northern facturability, plan the phases of the process, and to verify
employment declined by 10% (Hill and Brahmst 2003). This trend con- tooling designs; process validation output is shown in Fig. 3.
tinues today
This approach is part of a new technological direc-
tion in manufacturing to incorporate design considerations
directly and automatically in the process. Another applica-
ing states), increased by 7.5 million people or 19.7%, while tion of information use in providing quality uniformity is
that of the Northern automobile manufacturing states (Illi- Balics intelligent programming of computer numerical con-
nois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin) trol (CNC) turning (Balic et al. 2006). The system augments
increased by only 3.6 million people or 7.7% (Hill and part computer-aided design (CAD) data with a genetic algo-
Brahmst 2003). In the period from 19982001, the number of rithm tool selection and cycle planning routine. This is an
vehicle registrations in the South Atlantic states increased by
2.7%, while the Northern states share of total registrations
dropped by 3.4% (Hill and Brahmst 2003). Due to high cost
of transporting vehicles regionally to sales markets, these
figures translate directly to an increase in automotive manu-
facturing employment in the South. Figure 2 shows a regional
increase in the number of manufacturing employees in South-
ern states.
Today we see a need for educating tomorrows automo-
tive engineers through an industry with such profound effect
on the global economy. The increasing need for understand-
ing systems integration, the widening of the culture within
the automotive industry, and the regional trend of increased
Fig. 3 Progressive sheet stamping process using intelligent program-
automotive manufacturing in the South has motivated the ming. The intelligent system with no prior process knowledge output
development of a new Automotive Engineering curriculum essentially the same process that had been developed through years of
at Clemson University. experience

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Fig. 4 Communication architecture for manufacturing health. Legacy message queuing (MSMQ). Such a structure enables interoperability
systems such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs), CNCs and of systems with different data formats. Data are managed through a
robotics are interfaced across a common object linking and embed- Structured Query Language (SQL) database, and analysis applications
ding for process control (OPC) network which may utilize Microsoft interface through reporting services

evolution of earlier work in expert system development using A fuzzy selection algorithm for quality-based invest-
GA (Balic and Abersek 1997). Intelligent process planning ments by suppliers is presented by Gungor and ArIkan
is also addressed by Wang through the integrated intelligent (2007) in order to obtain the highest quality value. Fuzzy set
process planning system (IIPPS) (Wang 1998). Results of theory is used to select investments from engineering, mar-
such work are applicable across the supply base in a flexible keting, supply quality, quality certification, inspection, tech-
manufacturing framework, insuring better quality supplier to nology and training. Such a system supports consideration of
supplier as designs evolve and market demands change. poorly-defined or linguistic considerations when selecting a
An intelligent approach to quality uniformity in the area quality investment. In all of these cases, a broader under-
of materials is given by Brezocnik et al. (2002). They sim- standing of systemic interaction effects is warranted.
ilarly use genetic programming to derive the flow stress of
steel in bulk forming. Based on experimental data, a model of Digital technology in the manufacturing enterprise
forming efficiency evolves, yielding accurate material prop-
erties that can be fed back to the process for improved quality The ease of information generation and its use in the man-
consistency. ufacturing process has been enabled by advances in digital
Tolerance is another area to address when dealing with technology. Filos and Banahan (2001) review digital tech-
quality uniformity. Berruet et al. (1999) address tolerance nology development in research and technological develop-
evaluation for flexible manufacturing systems (FMS). This ment organizations, and the importance of properly using
work evaluates the potential for failure in FMSs, and pre- these technologies to leverage the interlinked relationships
scribes the addition of flexible elements to the system in areas of information and knowledge to both research and econ-
of failure sensitivity. This approach not only addresses qual- omy. The unforeseen opportunities that access to this infor-
ity consistency, but also supply chain reliability. mation stream allow support intelligent manufacturing in
Rokach and Maimon (2006) present a new data mining the form of interoperability standards between suppliers and
algorithm for discovering patterns in complex manufactur- automotive OEMs. These include both open internet stan-
ing processes. Traditional data mining techniques are more dards for new information generation as well as middleware
difficult to apply to manufacturing data due to unbalance dis- standards to interface legacy systems.
tribution of the target value and small training sets. The new Digital technologies applied to workflow management in
algorithm is applied to manufacturing quality improvement, manufacturing are also becoming better formalized. Supply
and can be used as an enabling tool to improve quality con- chain logistics and factory-level monitoring systems are able
sistency across suppliers for both (producer) and (con- not only to report workflow data, but also to diagnose defi-
sumer) risks. Te-Sheng et al. (2006) also address data mining ciencies and monitor overall manufacturing system health.
for assessment of manufacturing yield rate for a semicon- Architectures such as the factory throughput analysis system
ductor operation. This approach is warranted due to process in Fig. 4 are enabled by advances in information management
complexity and interaction between operations. technology.

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of resource sharing in flexible systems. Typical resources to

be managed in an automated flexible system are given in
Table 1.
Process planning systems are also treated by Hsieh
and Wu (2000) in analysis of error sensitivity in classical
computer-integrated deterministic production planning mod-
els. Information always contains uncertainty, and this effect
can be directly accounted for in planning if it is accessible.
Fig. 5 Activity and data flow in manufacturing. Design, process plan Treatment using probabilistic methods in a production exam-
and production activities can benefit from a neutral data model (Feng ple shows improved planning performance.
Intelligent support of manufacturing flexibility
Cenesiz and Esin (2004) treat protocol analysis for net-
working intelligent devices within the manufacturing sys- A further development supported by digital technology
tem via controller area network (CAN) bus. This bus enablers is flexibility in manufacturing. The flexible man-
system, originally developed by Robert Bosch Corpora- ufacturing system (FMS) offers benefits over traditional pro-
tion for automotive in-vehicle communication is shown to cesses by their capability to respond to changing market,
be useful as a highly-reliable and low-cost alternative in volume and demand conditions with minimal quality, cost
factory communication systems, and is amenable to network- and delivery (QCD) impact. Mehrabi et al. (2002) offer a
ing multiple real-time systems. comprehensive review of trends and outlooks for this devel-
The National Institute of Standards and Technology oping area of manufacturing systems. Over 60% of man-
(NIST, US Dept. of Commerce) has been deeply involved ufacturing experts in this study claim that the FMS is not
with standardization of communication methods and proto- living up to expectations; a primary opinion is that training,
cols among software, design, manufacturing and production software and communications are areas for improvement for
planning systems. Feng (2003) highlights the criticality of FMSs and for the new generation of reconfigurable manu-
the data incompatibility problem as design and manufactur- facturing system (RMS). An aim of the Clemson AEP is to
ing systems become more global and more highly vertically- develop technical skill and expertise in the area of flexible
integrated. A process planning activity model is developed systems.
to create a framework context to identify deficiencies in data Wang and Deng address the FMS as a system of machin-
flow and requirements at different process levels; high-level ing centers with material handling and automatic storage
relationships are represented in Fig. 5. incorporating real-time decision making under a formal
The process planning activity model is exemplified on architecture (Jiacun and Yi 1999). Such an architecture offers
data flow for a CNC machining process. Such a standard scalability in FMS design. Rahimifard and Newman (1999)
also promotes interoperability of supplier software systems note the evolution of information systems in manufacturing
and leads to improved quality consistency. Lpez-Ortega also and their role in enabling flexibility.
addresses machining-specific common language using STan- Hauser and De Weck (2007) argue that demand fluctu-
dard for Exchange of Product data (STEP) data standard ations and component specification changes have exposed
implemented in Java classes (Lopez-Ortega and Ramirez the need for embedding more flexibility in manufacturing
2005). This standard allows process planning in the context systems and processes. This is greatly prevalent in the

Table 1 Automated resources of a FMS

Flexible manufacturing resource Acronym Description

Automated guided vehicle AGV Battery-powered, automatically-steered vehicles that follow defined
pathways in the floor. They are used to move unit loads between load
and unload stations
Automatic storage and retrieval system ASRS A storage system that performs storage and retrieval operations with
speed and accuracy under a defined degree of automation
Computer numerical control CNC Numerical control machine tools whose operation is based on a
dedicated computer.
Robot none General-purpose, programmable machine possessing certain
anthropomorphic characteristics, the most obvious of them is the
mechanical arm
Resources are effectively allocated when production plans are made on a common data system such as STEP (Lopez-Ortega and Ramirez 2005)

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Automotive engineering program at Clemson University

The Automotive Engineering Program (AEP) at Clemson

University is a graduate-level engineering program founded
on the needs of the automotive industry. The master of sci-
ence (MS) program responds to the professional needs of
the industry, while doctoral research programs contribute to
the economic future of the industry in the state, nation and
world through advancements in automotive and manufac-
turing technology. Primary goals of the AEP are to develop
students communication, leadership, project management,
business and critical-thinking skills, ethical judgment, global
awareness, and scientific and technological knowledge as it
Fig. 6 Manufacturing flexibility space. Processes are compared for
flexibility on scales of changeover time, productivity and variable vs. relates to the automotive sector.
fixed costs (Hauser and De Weck 2007) The guiding vision of the AEP is to be thePremier research
and education program for automotive engineering and mo-
torsports. This vision is supported through a dedicated satel-
automotive manufacturing industry, where the market is lite campus known as the Clemson University-International
characterized by fragmentation, volatility and product plat- Center for Automotive Research, a 330-acre research park
forming. A qualitative comparison of representative manu- housing automotive industry research centers and the home
facturing processes is given in Fig. 6. of the AEP, the Campbell Graduate Engineering Center
Such comparison can be quantitatively used for process (CGEC, see Fig. 7).
selection and identification of areas for new process devel- To achieve and support this vision, the program will
opment. adhere to the primary theme Interdisciplinary research
and education focused on complex systems integration
Human factors in manufacturing development using the automobile and its manufacturing environment
as a platform. The theme is characterized by the following
Ultimately, the described areas of manufacturing develop- principles:
ment are driven in the automotive industry by the coupled
evolution of digital technology advancement (knowledge Interdisciplinary Character,
availability), flexible manufacturing, and increased global Industry Involvement,
competition. Zargari et al. (1999) completed a detailed survey International Orientation / Participation,
of Society of Manufacturing Engineers College Fellows and Student development / accomplishment mentorship,
awardees to ascertain the collective expert opinion regard- Delivering exceptional value to sponsors,
ing current state of US Manufacturing curricula. The first Responsibility and contributions to society,
point noted by the study is that manufacturing expertise and Supporting economic development in South Carolina,
domestic manufacturing capability are vital to the economic and
stability of the United States. The pool of qualified manu- Contributing to Clemsons vision and goals.
facturing employees as a whole is decreasing due to both
reduced involvement in Manufacturing Engineering (slow-
ing of the runner in the competitive race) and increasing The program is developed in order to address the afore-
complexity of technological systems (receding finish line). mentioned needs, particularly the understanding of the
Almost 90% of responding Outstanding Young Engineer a- relationships between design, manufacturing and quality,
wardees believe that there is a lack of competency because of ability to leverage process intelligence with process inter-
the distance between education and real world applications operability, and establishing the fundamental framework for
(Zargari et al. 1999). The expert consensus was that engi- the automotive engineer to think and design at the systems
neering graduates need not only a technical background, but level.
also have the ability to communicate clearly and positively,
and to manage complex interrelated systems. Critical factors
This recognized need motivates the education of a new
class of integration engineer, familiar with intersystem The interaction studies for the needs of the automotive indus-
effects among design, manufacturing and market, as well as try resulted in a number of key critical factors lacking in the
the effective use of knowledge in automotive development. automotive engineer. These were taken from both OEM and

698 J Intell Manuf (2011) 22:693708

Fig. 7 Campbell graduate engineering center (Clemson University). The automotive engineering program is housed in this 90,000 ft2 research and
education center

Supplier interviews, and the results differed greatly in terms of vehicle architecture, electronics, software, simulation and
of technical versus organizational competence. production systems.
Alternatively, the Supplier needs approach is highly
Critical factors: original equipment manufacturers organizational and management-oriented. These types of
skills are not typically core to an engineering curriculum,
The major classes and subjective areas highlighted by OEMs and the effect in the supplier workplace is demonstrated.
are given in Table 2. These areas are representative of auto- Interestingly virtually no technical needs are given, even
motive-specific subjects perceived by the OEMs to be lacking as the current market trend of vehicle development and
in graduates from traditional engineering programs. manufacture is putting a higher technological burden on the
These subjects encompass not only technical knowledge supplier.
and ability, but also proper use of these technical tools given The different perceived needs of OEM and supplier have
production volumes, market conditions and maturity of tech- driven the development of a holistic Curriculum incorpo-
nology. Integration of technologies and systems is a key rating hands-on practical experience, research, and a set of
theme. courses that address integration of technical and organiza-
tional needs for producing the next-generation Integration
Critical factors: major automotive suppliers Engineer to serve the Automotive industry. This engineer
will be an individual capable of specializing in a few key
The suppliers perceived a much greater need in the area of areas, but with the understanding of the effects that his deci-
organizational soft skills for interacting with OEMs and sions have on the system as a whole from the standpoints
providing smooth service within the supply chain. In this of functional performance, environmental robustness, total
context, the term soft skills represents interpersonal, crea- system cost, business strategy, and marketability.
tive and positive non-technical abilities, not to be confused
with soft computing in intelligent systems. Supplier per- Incorporation of intelligent methods to satisfy
ceived needs are presented in Table 3. perceived needs
These perceived needs are highly organizational and man-
agement-oriented with virtually no technical content. Based In the Clemson AEP, needs in particular areas are addressed
on the major topical areas, an implicit need for integra- with an emphasis on intelligent methods, specifically product
tion capability is shown, but never explicitly voiced by the development planning/realization and manufacturing sys-
suppliers. tems education. In product design and planning, systems-
level needs identified by the OEM are addressed using digital
Critical factors: comments on disparity between OEM and manufacturing tools such as and ergonomic analysis. These
supplier perceived need tools give a modeled view approximating reality without the
cost of prototype development and testing. This digital anal-
It is interesting to notice that Supplier Integration is only ysis is incorporated to the product development and launch
a single item in the OEM educational strategy, though sup- aspects of the curriculum.
plier issues represent a significant portion of OEM effort Similarly, intelligent approaches are included in instruc-
and cost. The OEM main focus is on technical integration tion and practical projects in the manufacturing area to

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Table 3 Automotive Supplier

Perceived Education Need Communication Multi-cultural issues
Areas. The supplier interests are Report writingpresentations well integrated Multi-cultural management
shown by organizational Teaching how to communicate through people How product is used across cultures
Communication through layers of management Collaboration toolswork together
Communicate orders and why they were given Policies
How to present and sell Liability issuesRisk assessment
Future modes of communication Social issues related to the vehicle
Effective modes of communication Economics of public choice
Communicationtransmitting and receiving Policytrade, regulation, environment
Effectively communicating Navigating policy and financial issues
Communication as a means for cultural diversity Business
Use of technology in communication Negotiation
How to create an environment such that Who is the customer? internal vs. external
communication can occur effectively customers
Writing skills: technical and creative Thinking out of the boxwhole picture
Assertiveness (when to speakhow to be heard) Look beyond the carbut at total impact
Ability to define customer needs clearly Look at it as a business
Leadership Design and mfg. effects on society
Leadership/team skills Honor code, ethics
Listening skills Problem solving
Cultural aspects/differences Balance the how and why issues
Internal marketing Sustainable development
Interpersonal dynamics Creativity
Presenting ideas in a non-confrontational manner Solution is only one stepmust keep going
Money is the best motivator How to think and how to learn
Negotiation skills Problem solving methodology
Leadership roles Integration tools
Pre-selling, internal marketing Systems view
Project management Critical thinking skills
Project management (keeping on schedule) Life cycle issues
Innovation and entrepreneurship Diversity in problem solving
Innovation is a value proposition Quality tools such as six sigma
Concepts related to innovation Design to cost/value
How to think about innovation Rapid design/rapid experimentation
Value of innovation Ability to function in uncertain conditions

address needs identified by both OEM and suppliers such ates going to industry, and points to a number of factors con-
as flexible and reconfigurable manufacturing system design, tributing to the disparity. Curricula have traditionally been
use of product and process information in inspection design, slow to respond to industry needs, and have not kept pace
and system robustness to uncertain conditions. Additionally, instructionally with technological advances, particularly in
digital representations of manufacturing processes are used manufacturing programs. Of primary importance in incor-
for process planning, force and power analysis, and develop- porating industrial internships in the field of study to provide
ment of interactive cost models. practical knowledge and understanding not attainable in the
classroom. Additionally, Miller notes a lack of instruction in
Application of design tools to curriculum development: necessary soft skills necessary for functioning in an indus-
background and current state trial environment, but not typically taught in traditional pro-
grams. Primarily noted:
A new curriculum must be approached systematically if it is
to be successful. Miller (1998) highlighted the problem of opportunities for students to interact on teams,
lack of real-world preparation of new engineering gradu- explicit instruction on communication skills,

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Table 2 Automotive OEM perceived education need areas Table 4 Areas of engineering curriculum importance (Shea and West)
Vehicle development: process and integration tools and methods Rating (/ 5.00)
Vehicle architecture
Topical areas
Development process and tools
Engineering economics 4.13
Vehicle testing
Quality management 4.04
Problem solving methods and tools
Design process 4.03
Quality methods
Statistics 4.03
Cost structures
Planning and control 3.99
Manufacturing: process, tools and development: focus on OEM
manufacturing Critical attributes

Supplier integration Communication skills 4.60

Flexibility in manufacturing Problem solving skills 4.45

Quality methods in manufacturing People skill 4.45

Launch: preparation, management, project cost justification Commitment to objective 4.13

Manufacturing technology integration Continuous improvement 4.12

Management of cross-functional teams, synchronicity High ethical standard 3.83

disciplines+schedules IME topics 3.72
Financial evaluation of manufacturing+development projects and total Business operations 3.64
vehicle business cases Design skills 3.38
Electronics: from integration into vehicle to service and MMI Engineering fundamentals 2.92
System integration for electronics
Board-net, test diagnosis and analysis in development+manufacturing+
service A methodology for curriculum development using design
Electronics component manufacturing
tools was proposed by Shea and West (1996), who applied
Communication electronics, MMI (incl. ergonomics of vehicle
multi-objective programming to satisfy educational objec-
tives while meeting the university, college, accreditation
Software design and logistics
and course sequence constraints of the engineering curric-
Quality in software development
ulum. They developed a multi-objective model, then iden-
Development of controls
tified five of nineteen topical areas and ten critical attri-
Subsystems: from functions to component, materials+manufacturing
processes: prepares mainly to work for a parts supplier
butes decided as important for graduates. These are shown
in Table 4.
Parts design and manufacturing (Why use castings?)
Note that soft skills not traditionally taught explicitly
Subsystems/ components materials (basic and advanced)
in engineering are most highly rated. Shea used a simpli-
Manufacturing processes depending on the volume
fied weighting scheme to develop test curricula emphasizing
Combustion+fundamentals of power trains+power integration
different areas.
Alternative energy
Shih (1994) identified global competition, increasing tech-
Vehicle market concepts technology concept evaluation
nology and the need for agility as motivators for improving
Vehicle+market customer behavior the manufacturing engineering curriculum. This led to his
Vehicle business cases development of the integrated manufacturing systems engi-
Vehicle dynamics simulations neering (IMSE) discipline, where some program focus is
Body and suspension simulations given to tools and techniques for managing integrated sys-
Aerodynamics simulations tems, namely:
The automotive interests are organized roughly by developmental stage
of the vehicle Computer-Integrated Manufacturing (CIM),
Concurrent Engineering (CE),
Total Quality Management (TQM), and
explicit teaching of process skills such as creative prob- Reengineering.
lem solving and project management,
application of skills to engineering problems, These tools have been integrated to the instructional curricu-
better understanding of interaction effects in both com- lum at Clemson University, and were also used themselves to
plex products and organizations (seeing the big picture), take a scientific approach in development of the curriculum
and itself. Though the described tools are outmoded today, the
ability to question current practices. methodology can still be successfully applied.

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Thom et al. (2002) also apply design tools such as weigh- our curriculum development study. Education development
ted objectives, Quality Function Deployment, and func- for adapting and maintaining electrical systems to conven-
tional decomposition directly to curriculum development at tional vehicles was also addressed by Oklahomas Mid-Del
Purdue University. They cite the benefits as being able to Technology Center (Lee and Stephens 2004). Curriculum
improve complex and coupled organizational systems such developers formed partnerships with businesses and Depart-
as curricula using a structured methodology. The curricu- ment of Defense facilities for input on areas of education for
lum is treated as analogous to a complex manufactured prod- electric vehicles. Additionally, partnerships resulted in dona-
uct. This approach overcomes a number of challenges for tions of Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and GM EV-1 vehicles
traditional curriculum reviews, namely implementation of a to be used as practical study subjects.
systematic approach and having a quantitative measure of McGrath (2007) highlights the important role of global-
curriculum success. ization in motivating higher-skill-set curricula, particularly
Previously at Clemson University, Beasley et al. (1995) for the automotive industry. He uses the case of automotive
created and applied a design optimization approach for globalization and resultant commercial proliferation within
undergraduate scientific curriculum development. Such a South Africa as a prime motivator for improved higher
curriculum requires optimization of course offerings subject education curriculum development in partnership with this
to external constraints such as ABET requirements, bud- important industry. Van Der Linde (2000) also addresses
gets, facilities available, faculty time and industrial advi- the relationship of education and employee marketability in
sory board recommendations. A curriculum was developed South Africa, stressing the need for education programs to
first by identifying key organizational elements across the be sensitive to changes in national industry, and to adjust
4-year window, then through iterative identification and curricula as needed to continue providing viable employees.
topical coverage development for individual courses. This Much as the automotive industry competes in an arena of
approach was expanded to include quality-related continu- agility today, so must education programs be actively seek-
ous improvement concepts applied to develop a systematic ing information and reinventing their programs in response
framework for assessing and improving existing engineering to change.
curricula (Beasley et al. 1996). These techniques continue Guerra-Zubiaga et al. (2008) highlight the importance of
to be used in Clemson University Mechanical Engineering collaborative learning methods (i.e., integration of education
today, and will be applied in periodic reviews of the Auto- with industrial or practical influences) to improve engineer-
motive Engineering curriculum. ing education. The case study undertaken is that of collab-
More recently, Lerman (2008) has pointed to the need for orative design tools such as those in the product lifecycle
critical analysis of targeted skills in education programs. He management (PLM) class of tools emerging as a necessary
points out that programs which continue to assume a needed approach for managing automotive developmental informa-
skill set based on data of decades ago cannot compete in tion. They specifically point out deficiencies of programs
todays competitive business environment where foci such as that do not elicit feedback from the end customer (automo-
agility and flexibility have replaced traditional success val- tive industry), specifically:
ues. The conclusion is that skills required for a given market
must be actively studied with the industry of that market to Inability to generalize new knowledge from previously
provide an occupation-focused education plan. known concepts;
Borthwick et al. (2000) undertook a study in the Australian Inability to recognize variations of previously known con-
automotive service industry to identify skill shortcomings to cepts, when taken out of the context in which they were
be addressed through education programs. The data were col- learnt;
lected through focus groups with industry representatives to Inability to apply known methodologies to open-end
the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), problems, i.e., when the specific question to be answered
the Australian Industry Group (AIG) and the Business Coun- is unfocused. These problems arise frequently in engi-
cil of Australia (BCA). They also examined the impact of neering design;
training through hands-on apprenticeship and higher educa- The available channels for receiving information are
tion class work on the resultant skill set. almost restricted to audio-visual, associated to short-term
Emadi and Jacobius (2004) give a detailed review of a cur- memory and poor insight;
riculum development for automotive electric power drives at Essential life-enduring skills such as creativeness,
the Illinois Institute of Technology. This undergraduate pro- reflexiveness, abstractiveness, etc., remain undeveloped
gram places teams of students in the role of design teams (Guerra-Zubiaga et al. 2008).
for electric power integration to vehicles. This need of iden-
tifying and practicing issues with integration of new sys- The conclusion of this review is that application of tradi-
tems to existing platforms was also cited as a critical need in tional learning environments (i.e., classroom and textbook)

702 J Intell Manuf (2011) 22:693708

Fig. 8 QFD for deployment of OEM capability requirements to automotive engineering curriculum. The first two categories of capability study
are shown; 8 designation represents the catalog course numbers

do not address the specific needs of open problem require- program development. An example of the QFD tool used for
ments development, integration of complex systems, and program evaluation is shown in Fig. 8.
the creativity required to address these problems. These As shown by this table, the capability requirements identi-
newly-defined required skills have been taken to heart in the fied through OEM interview and focus groups are addressed
design of the Clemson University Automotive Engineering by different courses. The tool is used to verify that all required
program. The AEP was originated through extensive interac- capabilities are addressed in the curriculum (all rows should
tive workshops with automotive industry OEM and supplier have one or more entries), and that no extraneous offerings
partners beginning in late 2003. The primary activities were are included (no columns should be blank or sparse). An
undertaken to answer the question what is lacking in the equivalent activity was undertaken for the input offered from
engineers you hire from traditional Mechanical Engineering interaction with primary automotive supplier partners. Pro-
and Electrical Engineering programs? gram educational structure is described in section in Pro-
gram structure.

Application of design tools to curriculum development: Program structure

Clemson University
The AEP consists of core offerings as a requirement for all
For the Clemson University graduate Automotive Engineer- graduates, and a variety of technical and business offerings
ing Program, a number of program requirement ideation tools that allow the student freedom to specialize in certain areas
and metrics were used, including decision matrices, affinity while achieving the identified objective outcomes.
diagrams, and most notably the Quality Function Deploy-
ment matrix (Kogure and Akao 1983). This tool correlates Core classes
end user (automotive OEMs and suppliers) requirements
with specific program features (classes, education tracks and Core education requirements are embodied in a set of base
research areas). courses, covering fundamental skills identified during the
To develop the QFD for the Automotive Engineering pro- requirements embodiment phase of program development.
gram, a series of interviews over the period 20002002 were These primary skill sets imparted by the core class
conducted to elucidate the perceived requirements of grad- requirements are as follows.
uates for industry. The interviews were undertaken with a
major Original Equipment Manufacturer, BMW AG, as well
as Tier-1 and Tier-2 suppliers, most notably Michelin North Project Management for Design and Manufacturing. Pro-
America and The Timken Company. Results of these inter- ject management is an essential skill for ability to operate
views were grouped by capability class and used to drive in the automotive design and manufacturing environment;

J Intell Manuf (2011) 22:693708 703

Overview of Automotive Systems. Students are presented Table 5 Technical track courses in the AEP
with an overview of major automotive systems, their func- T1 vehicle materials and structures mechanics
tions, constituent components and interfaces with the envi- AuE 853: Crash analysis methods and crashworthiness
ronment. Particularly stressed is functional decomposition AuE 855: Structural/thermal analysis methods for
of systems and a study of the interfaces between systems. automotive structure, systems, and components
This study of interfaces and interactions leads directly to AuE 866: Advanced materials for automotive applications
the concept of systems integration; T2 vehicle electronics, mechatronics and computer systems
Systems Integration Concepts and Methods. A critical AuE 825: Automotive sensors and actuators
explicit approach to the study of interactions between sys- AuE 826: On board diagnostics and reliability
tems and subsystems is undertaken to provide the student AuE 827: Automotive control systems design
with foundational knowledge of the effect decisions have T3 vehicle design and integration, methods and tools
on the system as a whole. Exemplary case studies are pre- AuE 846: Tire behavior and its influence on vehicle performance
sented that embody the integrated nature of the modern AuE 847: Vehicle suspension systems design and analysis
vehicle; AuE 848: Vehicle braking systems
Applied Systems Integration. The concepts learned dur- AuE 849: Automotive chassis design
ing the overall course of study are applied in a laboratory AuE 875: Vehicle development and realization
course, where students are presented with an open-ended AuE 876: Mass customization design for vehicles
design problem spanning multiple domains of specializa- AuE 877: Light-weight vehicle systems design
tion. The emphasis is on global system design optimization
AuE 884: Body and interior design
in an open design space; both vehicle and manufacturing
AuE 885: Vehicle layout engineering and ergonomic design
systems are treated.
T4 vehicle manufacturing and production
AuE 867: Vehicle manufacturing processes I
Technical emphasis: track courses
AuE 868: Vehicle manufacturing processes II
T5 vehicle performance (vehicle physics)
Technical breadth and depth is introduced to students through
a number of courses grouped by focus tracks. The tracks and AuE 850: Automotive stability and safety systems
current planned courses are given in Table 5. AuE 805: Ground vehicle aerodynamics
Technical track courses in Manufacturing Processes are AuE 886: Vehicle noise, vibration and harshness
presented on a product platform. Representative automotive AuE 887: Methods for vehicle testing
components and their function are presented as a context for T6 vehicle power systems and transmission
manufacturing process selection and analysis. Automation, AuE 816: Engine combustion and emissions
supply chain and intelligent manufacturing concepts are pre- AuE 817: Alternative energy sources
sented, and all concepts are reinforced with industry interac- AuE 828: Fundamentals of vehicle drivelines and power train
tion (tour or in-class discussion). integration
Previous treatment of interdisciplinary manufacturing Courses for tracks T1T6 that are shown in italic have been developed
instruction with involvement of industry was presented by and taught; others are either in development or planned for development
Deisenroth and Mason (1996) in design of an aerospace
manufacturing course with the aircraft, its subsystems and age and integrate people, technologies, and suppliers at dif-
components as the platform of study. They also integrated ferent stages of the vehicle development/production process
transition of instruction from a process focus to a manufac- chain.
turing systems focus, and included cost drivers and manu-
facturing selection topics for an integrated approach. Function Stem. The function stem emphasizes technical
competence in two or three specialization areas as noted
Technical emphasis: function and system approaches in the defined technical tracks;
System Stem. The system stem replaces two technical
The Masters degree professional program has two major track courses with courses chosen from the following:
stems or directions of study based on the student inter-
est and final employment objective. The Function stem AuE 831: New Vehicle Conception, Market and Technol-
is designed primarily to meet the needs of the automo- ogy Identification, Concept Validation
tive tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers for individuals with knowl- AuE 832: Vehicle Development and Integration Processes,
edge and skills to integrate two or more technical areas. Methods and Tools
The System stem primarily meets the needs of automotive AuE 833: Automotive Manufacturing Process Develop-
OEMs for individuals having knowledge and skills to man- ment, Methods and Tools

704 J Intell Manuf (2011) 22:693708

AuE 834: Automotive Production Preparation, Manage- trial partners through guest speaking, plant tours, internships
ment and Launch and a required industrial internship.
AuE 835: Vehicle Electronics IntegrationA Process Jiles compares curriculum development incorporating
Chain Perspective integrated practical education with the traditional final cap-
stone project approach, identifying common deficiencies
of traditional graduates as noted by industry (Jiles et al.
The objective of Systems-stem courses is to provide the 2002):
students with a more detailed knowledge and experiences
as related to various stages in the vehicle development/ poor understanding of manufacturing processes,
production process chain. a desire for more high tech solutions,
lack of design capability,
lack of appreciation for alternatives,
Business emphasis
lack of knowledge of value engineering,
lack of appreciation for variation,
To provide the students with the foundations of business,
poor perception of the overall project engineering pro-
economics, policies etc. as pertinent to the automotive indus-
try, a requirement of two business courses is imposed. One
narrow view of engineering and related disciplines,
is chosen from a traditional business school offering, while
weak communication skills, and
a second business course specific to the automotive indus-
lack of experience working in teams.
try has been developed through Clemsons Spiro Center for
Entrepreneurial Leadership. This course, titled Autovation
These needs have traditionally been treated by a single cap-
is designed to engage graduate-level engineering students
stone course at the end of the curriculum, an approach which
in emerging trends and technologies in the automotive sec-
has merit but is not effective in preparing students for indus-
tor. The first semester provides an introduction to emerg-
try as these needs increase and new practical needs identified
ing automotive competition and modern market demands;
(e.g., design of flexible systems). Jiles developed the VID
emphasis is placed on the development of economically via-
approach, which parallels that of R&D teams in industry, and
ble alternative fuel sources (primarily hydrogen fuel cells).
applies it to a Materials Science curriculum incorporated to
The second semester focuses on applying the lessons from
Nondestructive Evaluation center sponsored by the National
the first semester; students design products and detailed busi-
Science Foundation (NSF).
ness plans addressing these issues. Both courses are centered
Another education area in need of integrated practical
around teams of students working to understand and develop
instruction is process instrumentation and control. Amadi-
entrepreneurial skills.
Echendu and Higham (1997) describe an approach to curric-
This two-course approach requires the student to be
ulum development in this area, transitioning the technology
founded in business concepts while exploring the latest busi-
from an artisan approach given by employers after hire to
ness aspects and considerations within Automotive Engi-
a more scientific treatment obtained in the educational pro-
neering. The curriculum does allow flexibility, so students
gram. The program collaborates with industry and profes-
can specialize in a number of traditional business areas while
sional society to offer instruction in practical, usable areas.
being exposed to entrepreneurship and new automotive mar-
Schneider et al. (2005) address the practicality of instruc-
ket developments and trends.
tion for development of a software engineering curriculum.
Industry input is solicited specifically from working gradu-
Incorporation of practical experience to curriculum ates of the curriculum under development to find deficien-
cies, particularly software training that was required after
An additional program need identified through industrial employment. Additionally, soft skill deficiencies were noted
partner input is graduates with practical experience and as shown in Table 6. Though this data is from the software
knowledge. This need is addressed from two directions. First, industry, it highlights the perception of graduates from pro-
a program requirement of 2 years of industry experience is grams of complex system study as needing additional prac-
imposed. This allows education of the student at a higher tical training after graduation. This is the same case with
level of understanding. Common terminology, professional the complex mechanical, electrical and software systems of
relationship ability, and an understanding of the industrial the automotive industry, motivating industry-based practical
environment serve as practical prerequisites for the program. input in the curriculum.
A second approach to this need is an underlying theme Mativo (2005) describes curriculum development in a
throughout courses of hands-on involvement with equipment materials-based curriculum where the previous practice of
and systems under study, as well as interaction with indus- highly theoretical instruction was eschewed in favor of a bal-

J Intell Manuf (2011) 22:693708 705

Table 6 Curriculum participant soft skill self-evaluation

Very little (%) Not much (%) Neutral (%) Much (%) A great deal (%)

Project management 14 5 38 33 10
Quality assurance 5 0 19 57 19
Teamwork 5 0 19 33 43
Risk management 10 33 33 24 0
Design 5 19 24 38 14
Requirements elicitation and documentation 0 5 19 38 38
Coding 0 0 10 33 57
Conflict resolution 14 29 38 10 10
Graduates of a software curriculum generally rated soft skill development in their education program as low, requiring additional development after

Fig. 9 Web-based instruction on electro-discharge machining. Current research results are demonstrated graphically, with time-based trend of
critical process parameters. This is an on-demand web application (Yao et al. 2005)

anced approach of theory and practical experience with dif- realized; development of the student and development of the
ferent materials in manufacturing. The addition of instruction technology will run in parallel.
in current software used in industry develops graduates that Yao et al. (2005) describe an example of this concept
enter the workforce with a strong combination of knowledge applied to an integrated research and education program in
and skill. Tapper (2001) additionally noted the importance of non-traditional manufacturing (NTM) methods. In addition
involving industry directly in engineering curriculum devel- to teaching of recent research results, digital technologies
opment, particularly where laboratory equipment will be are also incorporated, both enriching the educational expe-
highly utilized. rience and disseminating information to a broader audience.
The AEP curriculum developed at Clemson incorporates Examples of web-based technologies incorporated include
the hands-on profound experience described by Tapper, Java applets, Shockwave animations, VRML animations, and
with the ability to be flexible to changing technology require- QuickTime movies to demonstrate concepts. The essence of
ments of industry. Knowledge that is today obtained by this program is its multidisciplinary nature, covering the inte-
automotive engineers during their first years of employment gration aspects of mechanical, electrical, chemical and bio-
is instead offered within the graduate curriculum, reducing logical domains. An example of digital instruction materials
learning time after graduation and making graduates imme- is given in Fig. 9.
diately more usable to industry.
Current state of development

Incorporation of parallel research to curriculum As of this writing, the Masters graduate education program
with 30 students has been realized for three full semesters.
Research within an academic program is the impetus driving Additionally, 20 Ph.D. students have been involved for over
new technology development. As new areas of technology 2 years; these students will be the first students to obtain a
become increasingly important. It is necessary to begin edu- doctoral degree in the field of Automotive Engineering from
cation of these technologies and methods as they are being an American university.

706 J Intell Manuf (2011) 22:693708

There are a total of 50 students and 10 full-time fac- summer learning program. The cultural education side helps
ulty, and together we occupy the newly-constructed Camp- the students to operate effectively within a global environ-
bell Graduate Engineering Center. AuE course plans have ment through improving their communication skills across
been vetted through focus groups with industrial partners different cultures and their understanding of the different
and Mechanical Engineering faculty as described; the first habits and traditions across the world. Plans to improve the
year of courses is complete and the next is set to begin. Fur- cultural educational aspect within the program is to incorpo-
thermore, the faculty focus groups review the offered courses rate a cultural seminar series.
in light of the students response, which is collected through
written student surveys and one on one discussions with the Comments on curriculum
program student association. Also, the faculty discuss any
new additions to the current offerings in light of new gov- The Automotive Engineering graduate curriculum at Clem-
ernmental regulations, new technologies or changes in the son University has been designed to incorporate exposure to
industry operating environment. the practical aspects of a career in Automotive Engineering.
The current course offerings focus on four different Particularly stressed is the integration of top-down systems-
core areas; automotive manufacturing processes and sys- level instruction exemplified on practical industrial projects,
tems, vehicle performance, vehicular electronics and auto- and exposure of students to international cultural experience
motive power-train systems and technologies. The courses in a technical environment. The curriculum is developed with
that support these foci are sequenced to couple with the input from OEM and supplier representatives of the automo-
core course offerings. The program is expected to gradu- tive industry, highlighting needs that depart from traditional
ate its first generation masters students in the summer of technical instruction, such as business-product relationships
2009. and interpersonal skills in a multicultural environment.
Additionally, the role of intelligent systems is included in
Industry focus the curriculum design. Digital product design and the inter-
operability of digital systems in the product development
There is heavy industrial involvement with the program, not process are included in the product realization area. Intelli-
only through course development input, but also direct con- gent tools included in the manufacturing systems area include
tributions to courses in the forms of guest lectures, sponsored intelligent inspection, information use between inspection
factory tours and in-kind equipment and software donations. and manufacturing process, and digital representations of
Additionally, the industrial collaborators provide real-life manufacturing processes used for process analysis, planning
case studies for the students to analyze and propose solutions; and control.
such activities include past and current challenges within the
automotive industry.
Additionally, an aligned intelligent manufacturing rese- Conclusions
arch plan is being carried out with industrially-sponsored
projects. A number of consortia are also forming around In this paper, we present a critical need for education of sys-
the program, including the Clemson University Vehicular tems-level thinkers in the global automotive industry, evi-
Electronics Consortium and the newly forming Automotive denced by the relatively recent transformation of vehicle
Industrial Partner Consortium, where manufacturers can join manufacturing from a centralized function to a widely-dis-
to drive research directions and take advantage of open results tributed supplier network. The influx of international auto-
while maintaining intellectual property rights. motive makers with a build where you buy philosophy has
increased the need for global and cultural understanding of
Cultural awareness manufacturing and business processes in the North Amer-
ican sector. A growing area for automotive manufacturing
A final aspect of the curriculum unique to an Automo- and resultant global technical understanding is in the South-
tive Engineering graduate program is a cultural immer- east US. This understanding is manifested in the increased
sion requirement, whereby every student will be involved management and use of information for improving process
in a 6-month foreign residence internship with a partner quality and flexibility. The greater availability of this product
company or international government research laboratory. and process knowledge, coupled with the fact that there is a
While students get practical industrial research experience, decrease in the number of advanced manufacturing gradu-
they are also exposed to international culture and learn by ates, has motivated a new program focused on systems-level
doing cultural integration within the automotive environ- thinking for the global automotive industry.
ment. This international internship also entails a language The Automotive Engineering Program under development
requirement, either previously spoken or through an intensive at Clemson UniversityInternational Center for Automotive

J Intell Manuf (2011) 22:693708 707

Research is a comprehensive degree program designed under Balic, J., & Abersek, B. (1997). Model of an integrated intelligent
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