Smart assembly is a term that is being used to describe the concept of integration of virtual and real time tools and methods to achieve gains in productivity, lead time, quality, and agility in the manufacturing arena. This paper describes efforts and successes in planning and implementing a laboratory to teach undergraduate engineering students these tools and allow for applied research. Between 1973 and 2004 the percentage of goods consumed in the US that are produced in the US has dropped from 83% to 24%. Much of this decrease has been driven by globalization. Goods can be manufactured for 30 to 50% less in China, for example, than in the US. This poses a very real threat to the manufacturing base of the US. An alternative business model that places the production closer to the customer is gaining favor as at least partial solution to this problem. This model is driven by automation and systems engineering to decrease cost and increase flexibility. The lab at Oregon Institute of Technology will use a collection of small robots and standard material handling devices to model physical systems. Discrete event simulation programs will be developed that allow engineers to quickly and easily model changes. This project is a collaboration of the Manufacturing and the Computer Software Engineering Technology programs. It is being driven by a series of faculty and student projects.

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