Mott, R., Jack, H., “The Four Pillars of Manufacturing Knowledge Model - Illustrations of Mapping Curricula into the Model”, ASEE Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, June 2013.
The Four Pillars of Manufacturing Knowledge was created in 2011 by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers through its Center for Education and the SME Manufacturing Education & Research community. It is designed to illustrate the full breadth of the manufacturing engineering field on one page and to be used as a tool for educators and industry professionals to describe the field. (Figure 1 and Reference 1)
Figure 1 shows the basic layout of the Four Pillars model using the image of a building structure for which the top (roof) part represents a product producing enterprise. The lintel below the roof shows themes that pervade the manufacturing engineering field such as customer focus, quality and continuous improvement, manufacturing processes, product design, process design, laboratories, and many others. Below the lintel are the four pillars whose labels are taken from the program criteria for ABET accreditation of manufacturing engineering and manufacturing engineering technology programs. (Reference 2) These are:
Within these ten categories are listed the numerous specific topics included in each. These topics are taken from the Body of Knowledge for Certification of Manufacturing Engineers and Technologists, produced by the SME Certification Committee. (Reference 3)
Among the many prospective uses for the Four Pillars model, this paper focuses on its use as a means of mapping a variety of academic curricula to the model to show the specific emphases of the program. While the model was intended primarily for manufacturing named programs, it can also be used by others to illustrate the content of the entire field of manufacturing and to help decide what parts of the manufacturing field are appropriate for inclusion in any given curriculum. It is well known that graduates from many different types of academic programs find productive careers in the manufacturing engineering function of product-producing industries. All should have at least an awareness-level comprehension of the entire field.
A spreadsheet format is used to perform the mapping, taken from Reference 4, a major report on manufacturing education called, Curricula 2015 - A Four Year Strategic Plan for Manufacturing Education, produced in 2011 by the SME Manufacturing Education & Research community.
Across the top of the spreadsheet are the foundation areas of Mathematics & Sciences and Personal Effectiveness, the ten general categories of topics in the manufacturing engineering field described above, and two additional columns for Customer Focus and Laboratories. Along the left side of the spreadsheet are the listings of the courses that make up the given curriculum. Entries in the cells of the table show the number of credit hours for those courses, aligned with the topics along the top. In some cases, the numbers of credit hours are separated into two or more parts to illustrate that a given course can address more than one topic from the body of knowledge. For the Customer Focus and Laboratories topics, the symbol “Y” indicates that course content has applicability to those overall thrusts of the manufacturing field.
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers has long been at the forefront of supporting manufacturing education and developing the ways and means of continuously improving curricula and methods of delivering quality programs in this field. One recent publication is a white paper (Reference 5) released by SME nationally on September 10, 2012 that summarizes the importance of manufacturing in the United States and that presents six recommendations for actions by educators, industry, professional organizations, and government to:
It is hoped that the Four Pillars of Manufacturing Knowledge, this paper, and the accompanying poster shown at the 2013 ASEE Annual Conference offer guidance for curriculum designers from many kinds of academic programs that pertain to the manufacturing field on how to include key topics from that field. Figure 6 is an alternate form for the Four Pillars graphic that shows only the major headings for the parts of the model.
ABET, Inc., 2012, “Accreditation Standards and Program Criteria for Manufacturing Engineering and Similarly Named Programs.” Washington, D.C.: ABET, Inc. [Available for download at http://abet.org/engineering-criteria-2012-2013/]
Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 2010. “Certified Manufacturing Engineering Technologist and Certified Manufacturing Engineer - Body of Knowledge.” Dearborn, MI: Society of Manufacturing Engineers. [Available for download at http://www.sme.org]
Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 2011. “Curricula 2015 - A Four Year Strategic Plan for Manufacturing Education.” Dearborn, MI: Society of Manufacturing Engineers. [Available for download at http://www.C2015.com]
Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 2012. “Workforce Imperative: A Manufacturing Education Strategy.” Dearborn, MI: Society of Manufacturing Engineers. [Available for download at sme.org/workforceimperative]