University of Alabama College of Engineering opens new manufacturing program


With a growing need in the manufacturing world, the University of Alabama has extended its resources and experiences to its students to create a better-prepared industrial workforce.

The UA College of Engineering’s Alabama Initiative on Manufacturing Development and Education, or Alabama IMaDE, had its grand opening ceremony on September 30. Alabama IMaDE is part of the new manufacturing program, which includes a new bachelor’s degree in manufacturing systems engineering housed in the mechanical engineering department.

“This new manufacturing facility is part of an initiative to develop a leading hub for multidisciplinary research and education in intelligent and advanced manufacturing systems and processes,” said Nader Jalili, department head of mechanical engineering and director of Alabama IMaDE.

Alabama IMaDE, on the first floor of Paty Hall, was created to solve industrial problems through education and research on advanced manufacturing technologies, collaboration with industry and renovation of classrooms and laboratories. With high-end technology and materials, such as industrial robot manipulators and advanced software, the center is equipped to provide real-world experience and advanced engineering through project-based learning.

Nader Jalili stands at the new IMaDE facility in Alabama. (contributed)

Elements of the facility help students program, operate, and implement automation systems, such as programmable logic controllers, automated robotics, and manufacturing.

Alabama IMaDE is made up of four sections: the advanced manufacturing plant; laboratory for teaching robotics and programmable logic controllers; Advanced and Intelligent Manufacturing Laboratory (AIMS); and the innovation incubator, all compatible for university students, industries, current regional workforce and future workforce.

With a focus on workforce development, the facility is accessible to non-graduate students and those seeking industry-level certificates in robotic manufacturing, automated manufacturing, and intelligent manufacturing systems.

“The state must have a sufficiently trained engineering workforce that knows the scientific principles of advanced manufacturing and materials as well as advanced manufacturing processes and systems to ensure that the manufacturing sector continues. to be a driving force for economic development in Alabama, ”Jalili said.

The five industrial robots are each in a cell equipped with safety measures in the advanced manufacturing facility. Each cell will be used for different activities including spot welding, stud welding, putty dispensing, metallic inert gas welding and perception inspection.

The AIMS lab has a more interactive approach to learning. Within the laboratory there are small, more flexible and safer robots. These machines are not confined to cells and are programmed to work on an assembly line to put parts on a conveyor. In addition to the flexibility, people can move the robot manually and create paths using “learning pendant” features and self-learning capabilities.

The innovation incubator is an office space for students, entrepreneurs and industrial partners to increase readiness levels for new technologies.

The new degree is expected to be available in fall 2022 and is designed for engineering students. The program will prepare students for the workforce with training in manufacturing systems through a bespoke engineering program with 15 innovative technical electives.

“The proposed Bachelor of Manufacturing Systems Engineering program will equip graduates with the skills and knowledge for a successful career in manufacturing systems and processes, which includes practical applications ranging from manufacturing processes to cyber-physical systems,” said said Jalili.

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama website.

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