The end of the Engineering Ivory Tower?
John Hayes posted on May 23, 2013 |

On a recent visit to Sheridan College’s engineering department I got to see the future of engineering education.  Sheridan’s multiple labs boast the latest equipment for design, prototyping and fabrication. 

These well-equipped facilities allow the faculty to reimagine the way the college delivers its project-based learning curriculum.

In this picture: Aravind Venkatapathy, Darren Lawless, Farzad Rayegani

My tour guide was Mr. Aravind Venkatapathy, Design and Drafting Coordinator in the Mechanical Engineering  Department.  He introduced us to Dr. Darren Lawless, Sheridan’s Dean of Applied Research and Innovation, and Dr. Farzad Rayegani, Associate Dean of the School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering & Technology for a tour of the Applied Research Lab.  Dr. Rayegani was proud to point out that the Applied Research Laboratory is equipped with water-jet cutting machines and advanced robotics as well as traditional milling machines and lathes and CNCs. 

But the most exciting part of the Applied Research Lab from an equipment perspective is the rapid prototyping lab.  That lab features a series of additive manufacturing (3D Printing) machines including a Fortus -400 mc, Fortus 900 mc and a smoothing station, which combine to create a 3D Production System that allows for the creation of functional prototypes, manufacturing tools, jigs and fixtures, and even end use parts.   

To date, over 120 students from mechanical and electronics engineering as well as architectural technology programs have been involved in projects through the Applied Research Laboratory.   Those students are working on real-world projects in a multidisciplinary way.  According to Aravind, the school embraces the CDIO (Conceive. Design. Implement. Operate.) philosophy that engineers learn best when they are tasked with a full range of real-world project tasks

And when they say “real world” at Sheridan, they really mean it.  Local industry works with the school on designs that could turn into real products.  Darren Lawless explained that the projects typically require at least 3 disciplines including mechanical, electrical and software engineering.  The projects are suitable for teams ranging in size from 4 to 10 students.

 

 Sheridan uses Dassault Systemes CATIA V5 as a design tool.  The engineering team plans to explore the collaborative multidisciplinary and systems engineering features of Dassault Systemes new V6 3DEXPERIENCE platform this year.

Beyond the applied research lab, Aravind showed us other labs in the newly renovated and extended engineering building, including a machine lab, electronics labs, CIM lab, a thermodynamic lab and an advanced energy lab. 

With all of this technology at their disposal and the learning that comes from Sheridan’s project-based learning approach, it’s no wonder that the graduates are in high demand.  The graduate employment rate is 100%, with new grads heading off to local industry in aerospace, consulting engineering and heavy equipment design. 

As Farzad pointed out, the school is the right place to house the latest technology, even before local industry.  That way students can learn today with the tools that will be generally available when they graduate.  

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