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Welding Lab, Accreditation Favorable for Growth

January 30, 2006

The Arizona State University Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Technology (MMET) has been experiencing a renaissance of sorts, with a recent partnership with a major welding equipment manufacturer, the accreditation of a newer program and a new concentration on the horizon.

The department and Miller Electric Manufacturing Company entered a partnership based on a shared vision to create a state-of-the art welding educational facility at the Polytechnic campus.

Welding can be a very technical and complicated part of a manufacturing process, according to Nick Peterson, Miller district manager in Arizona. "This partnership will provide the opportunity for students to have hands-on experience and gain knowledge of the many welding processes and technologies available in the market today. Together, we can ensure that our future workforce will be better prepared to manufacture top quality products in the United States," says Peterson.

The new welding equipment will enhance student laboratory experiences allowing them opportunities to tackle and succeed at more difficult welding problems.

"The equipment provides support for various student projects, like the vehicle students are building for the Society of Automotive Engineers' Mini Baja competition this spring," says Scott Danielson, ASU chair of the department.

According to Danielson, students graduate with a much better perspective on current welding equipment, enabling them to be more knowledgeable when specifying either equipment or processes as they begin their engineering career.

Headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin, Miller Electric Mfg. Co. is a leading worldwide manufacturer of arc welding equipment and related systems for manufacturing and metalworking industries. With training centers across the country, ASU is the largest university partnering with Miller.

Since 2002, the department has seen enrollment grow about 75 percent and expects it to continue. The affiliation with Miller is just one of many positive changes that will help attract students to the department's programs, which include bachelor's and master's degrees in manufacturing engineering technology and mechanical engineering technology, which has concentrations in aeronautical, mechanical and automation.

The department is adding an automotive concentration to its lineup in fall 2006. "With the increased interest in customizing cars and other motorized vehicles, the demand and interest for someone who can design and produce high-end automotive parts is on the rise," says Danielson.

"The addition of mechanical engineering technology and its three specialty concentrations has attracted students from all over Arizona. We expect the addition of the automotive concentration will do more of the same, attracting students who want a creative way to blend their interests in mechanical engineering and vehicles."

In addition to the new lab equipment and concentration, the newer mechanical engineering technology degree program recently received accreditation after meeting certain criteria from the Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc., the recognized accreditor of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and technology. ABET accreditation demonstrates a commitment to ensure the program meets the quality standards established by the profession.

One of the key elements of ABET accreditation is the requirement that programs continuously improve the quality of education provided, according to Danielson.

"We retool our programs regularly, in part because of constant input from our Industrial Advisory Board, so employers can count on graduates who will meet their needs," says Danielson. "Our students are ready to practice in their desired field as soon as they graduate."