Survey: What Kind of Curriculum Should Be Offerred?

July 11, 2012
These are the verbatim responses to select questions in the Automation World 2012 Education Survey.

Automation World: What would you tell the curriculum planner to add or focus more on to prepare future students for their career in manufacturing/processing?

· More hands on projects.  Machine building focus.

· More hands-on labs

· Hands on projects, more lab time with professors of industry not grad students

· IT systems and integration into Scada systems

·  "Include more topics and practical classes related with: Formal modeling, simulation, property analysis and control implementation of Discrete Event Systems, particularly with Petri Nets, Automata, Programmable Logic Controllers Project Management”.

· Process simulation, modelling, control, and numerical techniques using common tools like Excel and Matlab.

·  Heavy Math; Sciences: Trade knowledge; Real world partnering work experience

·  More real life examples (labs) of equipment and processes used in manufacturing, less theoretical coverage of material

·  Instead of modeling and simulation, logic controllers , instrumentation design, programming, what ISA teaches, safety instrumented systems

·  Industry process design standards and process types

·  The education from the US Navy provided Electrical basics, and then specifics for the Navy systems.  There is room for some civilian courses to provide a more rapid transition, rather than just trying to get it on a job.

·  Some knowledge of management company

·  Automation and programming is not a game You play in internet when You like. It needs working long days under pressure. The biggest kick comes from feeling the power of Enter.

·  The above college in the curriculum of B.E.Production Engg  had a balanced syllabus with more practical oriented.

·  Focus back on the basics of process control in addition to the other curricula in computer science, data bases, etc.  I have run into instrumentation and control personnel who don't know what a PID algorithm is.

·  Computing - Everyone should code at least some programs. Hardware functionality. Something on instrumentation.

·  Communication skills. Bridging the gap from theory to practice

·  Software development, microcontrollers, embedded systems.

·  Interships and real world experience

·  Ensure that all curricula contains number proficiency training. It is more important than just teaching a course or two in algebra or even calculus

·  more industrial comunications protocols

·  The business side of engineering; when I completed school I had very little experience or knowledge of how to complete a cost estimate for a task or project. I am confident that most graduating engineers know that most decisions have monetary implications, but they don't have a good base a how to determine a value for that.

·  More classes in quality conrol, process improvement, statistical analysis, information technologies

·  add an entry-level course on manufacturing and assembly processes

·  more hands on

·  more high end electronics and engineering studies

·  I/O

·  More experence with higher voltage like 480V

·  More real world issues, examples.

·  Vocatianal training

·  More classwork needed in software programming

·  Stay up to date.

·  Hands on training with Industry software and hardware so that the theoretical can be translated to the real world.  Programming methodology should also be developed and taught for saftey and control.

·  Hands on training

·  Cover the basics.

·  how to keep abreast of technology advances

·  labs should be held from people with manufacturing background

·  more exposure to latest programming languages.

·  Physical Science

·  I would you tell for my career in manufacturing

·  "latest technologies, What works and what doesn't hands on instrumentation lab"

·  More Food Plant Instrumentation

·  Understand first principles

·  More technical training in PLC's and HMI software and how they communicate

·  Base on practical aspects

·  More practical projects.

· Formal Software Engineering; Mathematics of Process Control; Systems Engineering; Project Management (and Engineering to Cost)

·  More contact with Production Companies during studies, some practice traning could be perfect to introduce into proces engineering, manufacturing.

·  System simulation

·  Expose pupils to some practical possibilities. So that they become excited about what can be achieved rather than thinking about monetary gain

·  Have teachers that have worked outside from the university

·  control system programming for PLC and DCS, and robotics

·  Combination practical and theoretical things

·  They should be told the importance of manufacturing/processing industry,we have to create the interest of new comings in this industry,what i believe is if you have internal interest in anything ,you can work 20 hours for any problem related to that until you find the solution.

·  "Business economics Expert System”

·  Take students on more field trips to manufacturing & processing facilities

·  More practical experience and work

·  May be more industrial exposure/interaction in the with mini projects every year in a industry

·  Mechatronics.

·  Encrease and focus on the areas of theoretic physic and mathematic

·  More Training Module i.e. Visual And Practical

·  Fundamentals of Process Control

·  Digital instrumentation communication, downloading DD files from the Internet and synchronzing to the system, digital device revision management, using device management software for diagnostics before going to the field

·  Revisiting all subject after every 2 years and add new technology in all subjects.

·  To learn making in plant operation

·  Couple the university experience with job learning activities, vocational training, and industry mentoring for engineering students.

·  More hands-on, and practical excercises.  Project driven curriculum.

·  A minimum of five years working as an operator or end user

·  Program/Application design in embedded systems (PLC, C-controller, Human Safety Concern, System Preservation Concern); multi-threaded automation programming, UI vs HMI development, good/efficient process state engine design. Advanced PC automation systems development should be its own learning track within most CS/CSE depts.

·  SCADA systems

·  Control Automation

·  Need more training with programming and application of devices (servos, PLC's etc) in real automation applications.   Good programmers/integrators are very difficult to find at any price.

·  More real world labs instead of just theory

·  more hands-on experience. more up to date topics using latest technology.

·  up the ante on the use of testing and validation

·  Back to basics.  Too many graduates do not have practical skills.  They know all the words, but have no idea as to how to move forward

·  "Functional safety, Security, Energy Efficiency”

·  Have a specific cirriculum based on manufacturing processes such as SMT programming, CAD/CAM, CNC programming, etc

·  PLC training with strong emphasis on COOP OR INTERNSHIP

·  Learn by experience.  Study while you are working.  When younger, high chance to learn more and quicker than in school.

·  Control terminology and basics of Instrumentation and control engineering

·  People sk

·  I'm self tort in Automation so I would tell them to focus on the basics as the current students need a good grounding as without this everything else will suffer.

·  programing controllers; system architecture

v manufacturing floor experience

·  More hands on and more cooperation between tech company's and schools

·  I think the point is that there is not one discipline that can prepare someone for manufacturing - it is a combination of disciplines (mechatronics is a good example).

·  Problem solving, software development, logic (computer, written language and spoken language)

·  Real world applications, appying theory to the real world

·  Just getting an internship helps greatly

·  More hands on classes. Kids need more training in "shop" type classes.   Not so much to be a machinist, but to know something about what can be done, and what can't (or at least easily).   That hands on experience is lacking, I find.

·  More technical hands-on experience with technology that is actively being used in the field w/ a focus on new and emerging technology

·  Fundamentals and problem solving

· There is a wide wide difference between practical engineering and the education given by the colleges. There should be a tie up between industries and educational institutional institutions. Presently there are unemployment among engineering graduates and the industries have want of technocrats.

·  Internships

·  theoryl, practical,class accessment ,design,drawing and detail interpretation ;

·  National manufacturing standards, ie. NEMA, UL.  How to read and interpret them

·  I don't know.  My degree was in chemistry and water/wastewater/environmental science.

·  Be open to change

·  "Hands on skills. We get lots of fresh out of Univ. ""kids.

·  Have never touched a tool in their lives. Have never designed and put together something of theirs."

·  Combine academic approach with strong project assgnments / activities via co-op type program.

·  Add more training on basic equipment items rather than one single process design lab course.

·  making the more practical with less theortical

·  Yes, for a well rounded background.

·  More applied science classes and labs with industry equipment (Power, Control, Automation, etc.)

·  More hands on

·  "I would suggest every technical college or university partner with manufacturers in their area to provide shadowing opportunities and real world experience such as a learning lab that would count as part of their curriculum. We should be offering an experience similar to what is done in the medical field (undergrad, intern, resident). This could be done in the same 4 years. I believe most companies need talent that can use both their right and left side brain. Therefore, schools should integrate more visioning, business strategy and strategic thinking in their programs."

·  cover the full spectrum from instruments thru controls, hmis, and historians

·  People skills

·  Deeper Mathematical concepts

·  "Get the basics down,Understand the principles behind it.

·  How something is designed to be made."

·  Allen Bradley And Siemens PLC programming.

·  Network architecture and control theory

·  Engineers need programs that require several years of field work to gain that knowledge, a lot of engineers I work with struggle with field work and how things work.

·  Applications

·  More of what the "REAL" world is like with specifics - controls, electrical, computers, software, etc...

·  "CAD and CAM systems, Cell Flow, Lean”

·  Subject the students to actual automation processes and examples from industry.

·  Real world automation and integration - more hands on application

·  Practical applications of intrumentation and controls

·  Ability to self-educate.

·  More practical training rather than theoretical.

·  Hands on experience.

·  Automation, PLC, pneumatics and sensor technology. Along with the technical mathmatics required.

·  shop experience, run cnc

·  Communication Protocols

·  "Working with other people, psychology of the workplace.

·  Understanding significance and dangers of  assumptions, as in the boundary conditions assumed in applied math and mathematical models."

·  More emphasis on "real world" devices (PLC's, etc.).

·  Cut the cost of going to classes

·  Current trends

·  Put the co-ops into manufacturing jobs not cushy office co-ops

·  Focus on basics, first principals, principals of good decision making.  Specific learning, learning to use specific tools, can be done after graduation.

·  Hands on courses, labs, final projects etc

·  My degree was Electronic Engineering Technology.  The university had too many "theory" type classess.  The ones that I think an Electrical Engineer would take.

·  cost analysis...automation vs human wages

·  No

·  Actual machine components (bearings, servos, cylinders) versus theory

·  Insist on On-the-job mentoring of new engineers.  Many new engineers do not get the opportunity to rub elbows with those who have "walked the walk."

·  Get a lot of field experience.

·  Better understanding of current and future technology.  no need to understand old outdated technology in most cases.

·  Undergraduate education provides theoretical basis to understand process systems (I am a ChE).  I think it should continue to do that.  It can also provide some exposure to the "process" of engineering, but it should not throw out the theoretical basis.

·  Hands on Apprenticeship or Intern program. A degree just shows that you can learn. It also gives a good foundation on which to build. But right out of school they still have alot to learn. Not just with manufactioning systems but also about the people they will work with.

·  More time to assimilate the information.  More time to practice hands-on projects.

·  Go back to tough courses instead of the watered down summaries taught now for engineering.

·  "Mathematics, Electrical basics, pneumatics, hydraulics, Materials science"

·  Make many backups, store off site. Your system will crash, and you will need to reload the software

·  Awareness of Code, Standards

·  Specialization. On the job training and Interships. Engineering Students should have a reality check on how things work in manufacturing. They need to learn what Human interaction with people probably from different mindsets and skills to really understand the right way to communicate to people when doing a job. The problem when you get out of engineering school is that you assume that the other person has the same way of thinking and engineers tend to leave out important details assuming the other person (not an engineer) will fill out those "understood" gaps.

·  The amount of focus was adequite.

·  trouble shooting problems. Focus on career in the field not just job hopping.

·  Increased focus on robotics and controls.

·  Basic Math and SPC extra process Engineering

·  add more controls programs especially on implementing interlocks & shutdowns.

·  more visits to facilities

·  Curriculum should be based more on teaching skills than trimming the class size.  Colleges needs to be more active with industry to know what is really what needs to be taught than what they think is the hot topic field.

·  education second training first

·  Offer a class in Applied Automation using a DCS System to implement Reguulatory / Sequential / Batch Control

·  I would focus on more application information, rather than all theoretical.  Maybe a separate applications class could be offered.

·  Diversity of Education,  Economics, English, Mathematics, Science and Engineering

·  N/A since my background is MBA, not a technical degree.

·  Add COOP Program to help students gain real life experiences

·  Instead of teaching theory, examine the hands-on approach.  It seems that when new engineers come on board, they have all the great answers until they are told, we tried that before.  We do not learn from our history.

·  Instead of taking a class but it is a class but working at local company/Interships

·  Co Op programs are essential for Engineers. That aspect of my Drexel experience was as imnprotant as anything else.

·  More hands on classes

·  Add courses on "design for six sigma" and "Lean Manufacturiung"

·  "Add some Quality Assurance training Add some Statistical Process Control familiarization"

·  My major was Electrical Engineering so I wasn't exposed to the topics of manufacturing/processing.  I assume that Industrial Engineers would have more exposure to this topic, but I can't say whether or not that was the case at my school.

·  mechatronics, robotics

·  Industrial Ethernet Switching, psychology of selling, succesfull presentation skills, working and thinking in the global world and acting local, learning to make and execute business plans, learning about other cultures

·  Computer programming

·  PLC programming.  Communication platforms

·  Put theory to practice. I work with and train new engineers frequently. The ones that come from a CO-OP hit the ground running compared to their peers who did not attend a similar program.

·  Math, Electronics, Controls, Physics, Dynamics, and Vibrations

·  Problem solving

·  I believe the basic math behind common formulas, such as ohms law, should be taught in greater depth so that the student can run the calculations easily and proficiently.

·  Add some Process Management methods (Lean, TQM)

·  "Real Life Coop or Internship is critical. Be Multi-Disciplined Teach project management"

·  Tooling ( Hand, Air, DC electrical ) Working as a team member, Computer skills

·  More practical connections between the paper and the real world. I say my experience was good not because I was the class room but because I worked in mechanical/electrical field while in school. Not the easy jobs either. Yet this experience was key to ability to understand and design systems that worked and made sense both on paper and installation. Because it being a small company I was sensitive to the choice of materials for design.

·  Basic understanding of regulated industry requirements IQ/OQ/PQ validation protocols, change control, etc.  Plant energy monitoring and management.

·  My degrees were not in Engineering! I learned hands on in the military and in civilian companies. Most companies are facing new grads who can think but not do.

·  Testing and troubleshooting. Also all technologies taught in school was new, once in the field many still use original hardware. Learned these through field experience.

·  Practicality

· "Two issues: (1) Fundamental science and technology behind manaufacturing processes.; (2) Adequate hands-on training in a real work environment."

·  More emphasis on practical engineering techniques and less on theoretical techniques

·  Add hands-on projects to the program as we have at Conestoga College.

·  Most recent graduates have only covered the theory and are short on practical knowledge. This is because the universities primary focus is on preparing their students for graduate school on not on a career in industry. Employing some professors who have a significant amount of industrial experience would be beneficial.

·  Add hands on ethernet/networking training.

·  extend their relationship with industries.

·  Real world life stories and experiences... class trips to see how things are done.  Focus on THINKING... not memory work for grades.

·  More hands on technical training.  Quit wasting time on making a "well rounded student"....require good old "hand on" with machining and other tool related classes

·  Students should be well versed in the basics of engineering in order to prepare for unexpected changes in processes and uninvented technologies.

·  Improved classes in manufacturing statistics, 6-sigma, and Lean manufacturing

·  Industry expectaions

·  I had started off in telecommunications, but eventually due to the high-tech industry at the time, eventuallly found myself focussed more with control systems.  More training should be provided towards industrial equipment, as far as processing, I believe Chemical Engineering may have it in their curriculum, but it should be touched upon by all Engineering programs.

·  More Labs for hands on work.

·  More practical training and less theoretical

·  Start the specialization phase at least two years before graduation.

·  practical application of products

·  The more "hands-on" training that can be done the better

·  PLC / controls programming, equipment and process design methods, industrial communication networks.

·  Learn all you can and be prepared to learn more.

·  Learn theory carefully and then practice it in the job.

·  I got a good overall view of Operations, but the most time was spent on Plant Location, and Linear Regression.  Not really useful in my career.

·  Focus on real world problem solving skills and actual tasks that will be executed in the work place.

·  Field visits to facilities with hands-on training

·  More of the hands on approach

·  I&C needs to be an area of emphasis within Electrical and Mechanical Engineering.

·  Multidisciplinary approach- hardware and software logic/infrastructure, whether it be hardware electrical, hardware mechanical or hardware electro-mechanical.

·  The Real World.  I am in the world of sensing and you'd be surprised how many people are not educated in how these devices apply either for measuring (analog), detecting (discrete), Identifying (RFID/bar code/vision) or connecting these peripheral devices together.

·  More hands on and building a sound base for development

·  more real world work through internships.

·  Yes we should have a focus on manufacturing not just in mechanical engineering but electrical as well. An option for concentration would be nice. I feel that much of my education was preparation for a postgrad degree.

·  focus on real-world problems and case studies

·  Virtual and server engineering

·  Fundamentals

·  Hands on automation not theoretical.

·  More hands on activities

·  Problem Solving, Relationship of Workers to the Manufacturing Process, Exposure to a wider variety of Processes, Environmental Impact

·  Electronics

·  More hands-on lab type processes for real world experiences

·  On Site assignments

·  More machine based training on trouble shooting and maintenance

·  Logical analysis and planning.

·  More real world applications and not just theoretical.  In the EE Controls classes, everything is about partial derivatives and there is no "real world" application.

·  College graduates a great deal more of hands on experience!

·  More PLC and Drive integration classes with a focus on historical data trending.

·  CAD

·  More Industrial Analytical Analyzers and processes.

·  Mechatronics (includes servos and science behind motion which includes system dynamics), strong background in logic and software

·  Yes

·  Robotics and Auto-packaging

· increase exposure to process logic control

·  More emphasis on Mechatronics

· "Principles of Manufacturing, Equipment used for Manufacturing, Design for Manufacturing."

· Hands on Experiences

· More real world monitoring examples

· More practical projects

· proj mgt

For a look at the other responses, see "Survey Says, Educating and Training the Industrial Workforce, Part 2"