Spurring innovation in a sustainable manufacturing course

Young B. Moon, Mingtao Wu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemConference contribution


A course on sustainable manufacturing has been developed and offered since 2010 at XYZ University. In the course, a comprehensive definition of manufacturing is adopted, covering not only material transformation processes but also any activities that are needed to support manufacturing such as product development and design, manufacturing systems design and operation, and supply chain systems design and operation. With such a comprehensive definition of manufacturing along with the comprehensive nature of sustainability, a radically different approach was necessary in order to effectively educate students on sustainable manufacturing. Innovation is emphasized and promoted throughout the course, as Albert Einstein succinctly put, "we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." Students have numerous opportunities to devise their innovative solutions while they develop new sustainable products, starting from ideation, to concept generation, to product design, to selection of manufacturing processes, and ultimately to fabrication of physical prototypes. Therefore, how to spur innovative minds among students has been the main challenge of the course. Four main methods have been devised and adopted to spur innovation: (i) by explaining the criticality of sustainability issues, (ii) by sharing existing and conceived examples and solutions, (iii) by providing practical methods, and (iv) by imposing thoughtful constraints. This paper presents the learning objectives, contents and approaches of the course, how those four methods have been implemented in the course, and the preliminary analyses of the effectiveness of those methods in spurring students' innovation potential as exhibited in their learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2016 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
StatePublished - Jun 26 2016
Event123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2016Jun 29 2016


Other123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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