sealPurdue News

May 14, 2003

Manufacturing students gain international perspective

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A group of students from Purdue University's School of Technology will partner with their counterparts in Finland, Germany and Poland for a group project that will focus on manufacturing technology and international cooperation.

The 12 students from the School of Technology will participate in the "FIT 2011" manufacturing design simulation from May 19-23, which is overseen by Kaiserslaughtern Universitat in Germany.

Students at the different locations will work as one group, using an interdisciplinary approach to solving a manufacturing problem – the redesign of a facility that makes large truck axles. The project not only gives students a realistic simulation to put their education and problem solving skills into practice, but also gives them experience working with people from around the world.

Purdue's School of Technology, which has been involved in the program since 1996, is the only university outside of Europe to participate in the program. Participants in previous years were volunteers, but this year students will receive three hours of credit for the project.

"These students will be entering industries that need workers with international experience who can use technology to work with their counterparts all over the world," said Henry Kraebber, the Purdue professor of computer integrated manufacturing technology who oversees Purdue's participation in the project.

"FIT 2011 is one more way that our students at Purdue can be prepared to be leaders in manufacturing as the field continues to change and expand."

Besides learning to use the technology that makes such long-distance collaborations possible, such as videoconferencing and file sharing, the students also learn how to deal with practical complications of international teamwork. For example, because of time zone differences, when the group of Purdue students starts working in the morning, the European groups are wrapping up a day's work.

The simulation focuses on realism. Throughout the five-day project, Kraebber and other professors in Europe will take on the role of plant supervisors and other corporate managers, answering questions and providing bits of information as the students ask for them.

"This isn't like a test or a classroom lecture where students are fed information and told what to do with it," Kraebber said. "The project challenges the students to develop their own ideas about the reality of manufacturing design and to employ the skills they have been learning in a way very much like they will in industry."

Writer: Matt Holsapple, (765) 494-2073,

Source: Henry Kraebber, (765) 494-5039,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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