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  • Learning Factory Creators Lauded
Jan 2006
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2006 -- Jens E. Jorgensen,, John S. Lamancusa, Lueny Morell, Allen L. Soyster and Jose Zayas-Castro will receive the National Academies' National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Bernard M. Gordon Prize -- a $500,000 award issued annually that recognizes innovation in engineering and technology education -- for creating the Learning Factory, "where multidisciplinary student teams develop engineering leadership skills by working with industry to solve real-world problems," the NAE announced.
The Learning Factory was developed to produce engineering graduates who could easily translate engineering theory into practice and manage projects independently. In this innovative undergraduate program, students tackle real problems from industry, such as designing a collapsible crutch, turning coal ash into a pavement and making the mechanism that adjusts the position of carseats safer.
The Learning Factory originated from a coalition between three universities, Sandia National Laboratories and 36 industrial partners that shared a desire to give students firsthand experience in design, manufacturing and business. A 1994 National Science Foundation/Advanced Research Projects Agency grant funded the creation of the Learning Factory as a Manufacturing Engineering Education Partnership (MEEP).
Within three years, the university partners -- Pennsylvania State University, the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez and the University of Washington -- successfully integrated the Learning Factory into their institutions and curricula. Since then, Learning Factory concepts and course materials have spread to other departments within these institutions and to other universities in the US and Latin America.
Jens E. Jorgensen is a professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at the University of Washington. He led facilities development at all three partner universities and directed the Learning Factory at UW until his retirement in 2000. John S. Lamancusa is a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Learning Factory at Pennsylvania State University, where he was a principal investigator.
Lueny Morell is the Hewlett Packard Co.'s director of university relations for Latin America and former professor of chemical engineering at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. She led the Learning Factory curriculum development at UPRM. Allen L. Soyster is professor and dean of the College of Engineering at Northeastern University. When he was head of the department of industrial engineering at Penn State, Soyster led the administration of the MEEP and was responsible for assembling the Learning Factory faculty and staff and for establishing the Industry Advisory Board.
Jose L. Zayas-Castro, professor and chair of industrial and management systems engineering at the University of South Florida (USF), established the Learning Factory at UPRM and has adapted Learning Factory concepts to other US universities. In 1999, Zayas-Castro implemented the Entrepreneurial Manufacturing Innovation Learning Experience program at the University of Missouri at Columbia. At USF, he has redesigned the capstone project to include elements of the Learning Factory."
The Gordon Prize is an annual award recognizing new modalities and experiments in education that develop effective engineering leaders.
Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith will share the NAE's annual Charles Stark Draper Prize -- a $500,000 award that honors engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society -- for the invention of the charge-coupled device. (See also:, "CCD Inventors Win NAE's Draper Prize,"
The prizes will be presented at a gala dinner in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 21, as part of National Engineers Week.
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