Lehigh is manufacturing a modernized engineering program

By - Last modified: January 11, 2013 at 9:11 AM

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Lehigh University’s Center for Manufacturing Systems Engineering program will be revamped this year, according to program director and Professor Keith Gardiner.

This spring, program officials will call upon former students, employers and faculty to update the continuing education program that has a focus on manufacturing systems.

“We want to look at how the program should change course descriptions to fit with modern trends,” Gardiner said.

The cross-disciplinary program began in the 1980s and is designed for experienced industry professionals. It allows them to “develop their appreciation and broad-based understanding of manufacturing systems design, integration and operation combining the management perspective with the engineers’ feel for events on the factory floor,” according to the program website.

Students who enroll in the program also typically gain increased maturity, improved communications skills and better understanding of business and strategic programs.

Participants are provided the opportunity to keep their fingers on the pulse of the manufacturing community, thanks to their program director.

Gardiner said he’s always addressed the latest technical news in his classes, such as the recent helium shortage being discussed in various news outlets.

“That’s kind of worth discussing in class when you’re talking about processes,” he explained.

Because the program is being utilized by folks in the field, there is a definite need to keep the program current, especially since there are a growing number of professionals registering for the program.

“We have a lot more applications this year than last year,” said Gardiner.

Because the program is offered to professionals, it is flexible in terms of how long a student may take to achieve his or her degree. While flexibility allows busy parents and professionals to work at their leisure, Gardiner finds their dedication can be better than full-time students.

“I’ve been very impressed by the diligence of our students. They are much better managers of time,” said Gardiner.

MSE classes are offered on campus, delivered in real time via classroom-live, and also in an asynchronous online format through Lehigh’s distance education program for students scattered around the globe.

That’s quite a change from the early days. Gardiner used to send clunky VHS tapes of the lectures via mail when the program first began.

At that time, companies such as General Motors, Merck, Sanofi Pasteur and others were sending their employees to the program. Many of those companies are still involved, but Crayola and others have also come on board.

Students wishing to enroll in the MSE program must have industrial experience. Thirty credits are required for the master’s degree in Manufacturing Systems Engineering. A 45 credit MBA&E with an MSE concentration is available.

In addition, the Center for Manufacturing Systems Engineering offers a certificate for the successful completion of 12 MSE credits in their manufacturing systems engineering graduate program.

Over 390 MS in MSE degrees have been awarded since 1984.

Because of the program’s accessibility and new strategies, Gardiner expects that number to grow in the years to come.

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