The Engineering Technology Department at Western Washington University has been using the integration of advanced Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) tools to enable a redesign of the curriculum that uses a collaborative engineering approach similar to the environment used within our industrial counterparts. In today’s competitive global marketplace, those industrial organizations must produce higher quality, easier to manufacture and maintain parts in shorter periods of time. Products are most often created in concurrent engineering or collaborative business environments where rapid sharing of information is the very essence of modern engineering. In addition, the widespread use and availability of the Internet has changed the nature of engineering data management and exchange. Therefore, CAE tools must enable engineers, analysts, technologists and designers to do their jobs more efficiently in a world where time to market is ever shortening. The best CAE tools increase productivity, because they are “smarter” tools. Only when the students are well versed in the multi-faceted collaborative engineering atmosphere and the accompanying modern CAE tools within the curriculum are they truly ready to become immediately productive in the workplace after graduation.
This paper first describes the collaborative engineering approach used in the curriculum within the Engineering Technology Department during the past two years. It then describes the use of CAE tools used in the collaborative engineering approach in departmental projects. Next, it details the classes that have been specifically enabled by the use CAE tools including Engineering Design Graphics I, Engineering Design Graphics II, Numerical Control Operations, Advanced Computer Numerical Control (CNC), Tool Design, and Computer Integrated Manufacturing (which includes rapid prototyping and finite element analysis). The final section of the paper outlines future plans for enhancing the curriculum further in both the integration of computer tools and the continued development of continuing cross-disciplinary projects based on careful outcomes assessment and feedback from industrial advisory boards and professional societies.