Design For Quality (DFQ) Project Proposal

Keywords: Design for Quality, Course Quality

Principal investigators:

Professors Sammy Shina and Dudley Shepard
University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Mechanical Engineering Department

Professors Larry Seiford and Richard Giglio
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University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Industrial Engineering and Operations Research

Professor Samir Billatos
University of Connecticut
Mechanical Engineering

Professor Manbir S. Sodhi
University of Rhode Island
Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

Project Coordinators:
Professors Sammy Shina and Richard Giglio

Industry Partners
EMC Corporation
Foxboro Co.
Hewlett Packard
Professional Societies
IIE Merrimack Valley
ASQC, Boston
ASQC, Western Mass
SME, New England


Three one-credit modules will be developed in conjunction with several companies and professional societies to provide a systematic overview of manufacturing through the concepts and tools of Design for Quality (DFQ). Emphasis is on the role of quality in the total production cycle, including customer inputs, competitive benchmarking, performance specifications, product and process design, manufacturing variability and product reliability. Students will learn software tools and complete DFQ exercises and industry-based projects, with emphasis on teamwork and problem solving. The modules can be offered at upper levels, or combined as a stand alone course for freshmen and sophomores. All modules will be taught in the 1995/1996 academic year.


Manufacturing is a complex activity involving the marketplace, product design, a host of processes (each a field of study in itself) and production activities which combine advanced machinery, complex logistics and human behavior. This complexity makes it difficult to introduce sufficient manufacturing-related material into crowded engineering curricula. Furthermore, not all engineers believe they are involved in manufacturing, even though the end result of all engineering activity is a product of some type.

What is needed is manufacturing-related material which will enrich the curriculum of any discipline and provide insight into and knowledge of the production process at a level which is appropriate to the discipline involved. Design for quality (DFQ) provides an approach proven in industry and familiar to the technical managers of most successful companies. DFQ encompasses a comprehensive set of concepts and rigorous engineering tools which can be applied to a variety of applications. Furthermore, many of the fundamental concepts and some of the tools can easily be taught to freshmen (indeed, industry is teaching certain concepts and tools to workers on the factory floor) and incorporated into the curricula of all engineering disciplines without a set of prerequisite courses.

We propose to develop and deliver three, original, technologically current DFQ modules which faculty of any engineering discipline can easily incorporate into existing courses. Two of the modules will be constructed so they can each be taught at intermediate or advanced levels, depending on the background of the students in probability theory and statistics. The three modules (at the basic level) can be combined and offered as an integrated course suitable for freshmen or sophomores.

The modules are innovative in their use of personnel and programs from industry, team projects, computer simulation, case studies and in the development of course guides with "packaged" presentations to foster the dissemination of the courses.


The domain of DFQ includes: anticipating and satisfying customer expectations; a fundamental understanding of "variability" and the way it affects production processes; the new-product life cycle and how to lower costs through merging design specifications and production; and more advanced topics such as robust design and the optimization of manufacturing processes.

In teaching these topics to undergraduates over a period of several years, we have noted a lack of suitable books and materials, especially rigorous engineering problems and solutions and industry-based case studies. The project team proposes to develop an extensive collection of engineering problem sets, laboratory exercises and project materials.

Module 1 will provide an introduction to quality concepts and could be included in nearly any course to give students an understanding of the principles of DFQ and the measurement, description and effects of variability. Modules 2 and 3 will teach more advanced concepts and engineering tools, and are available at two levels, depending on students' background in probability and statistics.

Each module will begin with a "challenge" presented by an engineer or manager describing a problem faced in his or her industry which later will be the subject of a case studies for students. The industry kick-off sessions will be video-taped and be available for future classes to watch when appropriate. For example, engineers may describe the pressure they face to shorten design development cycles, or to respond quickly to calls for customer service. Students could later use computer simulation, QFD and other tools to identify the detrimental effects of variation, and to propose improved systems (e.g. a "pull" system or agile production plan). In many instances, students will visit the company and have a plant tour.

Because the typical production worker, manager or engineer historically has received an inadequate background in even the basics of quality, industry and professional societies have developed numerous training programs. In each module, at least one laboratory session will be based on industrial training aids and delivered by industry representatives, a practice which has already been tested with excellent results.

Teams and communication are integral to good quality practice and will be stressed in the modules. Each module will employ a graphical-based simulation language. Because the mechanics of these languages are simple, students can focus on the results of problem analysis rather than the solution technique.

The cooperative development of the modules insures dissemination across EASNE schools, and a course guide for each separate module will be developed to facilitate further use throughout EASNE and other universities. Each course guide will contain:

  1. Instructor handbook on teaching the module, project lecture outlines in computer presentation format (e.g. Powerpoint ) and problem-set solutions.
  2. Student guide with projects, problem sets and instructional material
  3. Videotapes of talks by industrial participants
  4. Self-teaching exercises for the simulation software
  5. A language-of-quality index with definitions and abbreviations.


Each module will be developed in an iterative fashion by individuals from at least three EASNE schools. After reaching consensus on a module design, initial responsibility for the first draft of each module will be assigned to particular faculty. At each stage of development, the draft will be circulated for peer evaluation by the project team and industrial partners. Feedback will be incorporated at each stage. We anticipate complete module development and final peer review by August 31. During the Fall '95 and Spring '96 semesters, the modules will be tested in the classroom, student evaluations collected and suggested improvements incorporated. As described earlier, a complete course guide for each module for use throughout EASNE and other universities would be available in final form for the Fall '96 semester.

Project Milestones

June 1, 1995	Project Start
	Launch meeting
June 15, 1995	
	Module design finalized
	Divide work for module development among project team
	Assign initial responsibility for first draft of
	each module
	Collection of Primary materials assigned
July 1, 1995	
	Review outlines -- PIs, Industry and Professional Societies
	Finalize Module outlines
	Software evaluation & selection completed
August 15, 1995	
	Module development completed
	Final peer review
August 31, 1995
	Feedback from final peer review incorporated
	Delivery of module course guides to individual
Fall '95 / Spring '96 semesters
	Pilot testing, feedback, and refinement of
	individual modules at member schools


The proposed modules employ techniques demonstrated to improve retention: working in teams on interesting projects, reinforcement from industry that the material is relevant, and realistic challenging problems. In particular, the industry challenge, industry programs and field trips will help maintain a student's enthusiasm for engineering.

The subject matter itself has unique characteristics which we believe will aid retention. Quality assurance necessarily cuts across boundaries so students get a broad perspective on engineering and need not feel that by choosing engineering they necessarily are being driven into narrow specialties. Quality is and promises to remain in the public consciousness (e.g. Ford: "Quality is Job 1"). Although the specific case studies on which the students will work necessarily have to be taken from a particular company, it will be clear that the use of DFQ cuts across all disciplines.


The outcomes desired from the course are:
  1. An understanding of variation, how to describe and measure it, how it adversely affects processes, and how it can be reduced;
  2. An understanding of the interconnections between the marketplace, product design, manufacturing and service;
  3. An appreciation of the key role engineers play in assuring quality;
  4. Enhanced communication skills, in particular the communication of knowledge of variation including a fundamental understanding of basic statistical concepts;
  5. Knowledge of specific engineering tools, including a simulation language;
  6. Improved attitudes towards engineering.

Three types of procedures will be employed to evaluate the program: peer evaluation, student evaluation, follow-up evaluation.

As described in the WORK PLAN, each module is developed in an iterative fashion by individuals from at least three EASNE schools. Consequently, before a module is even taught, it will be subject to evaluation and modification by faculty who have extensive training in quality, with different perspectives arising from their different mixes of experience in teaching, consulting and in managing industrial programs. Furthermore, industrial partners will be called upon to suggest improvements to the modules both before and after they are taught for the first time.

Students' performance on their team projects and on one examination will measure how well they learned the engineering content of the modules. Changes in students' attitudes and motivation will be measured via the pre- and post-questionnaires which are in the final stages of development by the evaluation task force. These questionnaires will be augmented by additional questions designed to assess goals particular to the DFQ modules (e.g. 3, above). Resources permitting, students taking the quality modules will be compared to those who haven't, again using instruments being developed for this purpose by the evaluation task force.


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