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OU launches Product Lifecycle Management certification

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
OU launches Product Lifecycle Management certification
By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant

Course instructor Phil Nicholson (top) is an expert in Jack from 4D Systems.
Building on a collaborative partnership between industry and academia, Oakland University’s Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) Department recently launched a pilot Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) certification course for engineering student interns and engineers from Chrysler Corporation. 
PLM software tools help companies to manage all stages of a product’s life cycle, from conception and design, to manufacture, service and disposal.

The weeklong pilot course focused on the Siemens Tecnomatix suite’s Jack software tool. Jack is a human modeling and simulation software tool used for ergonomic design and analysis. The ISE Department obtained Jack as part of two $46 million in-kind Siemens PLM software grants made in 2011 and 2012.

The course was developed through an effort led by ISE department faculty Dr. Robert Van Til and Dr. Sankar Sengupta. The pair worked with personnel from Siemens PLM, Chrysler, 4D Systems and Alimar Ltd. on course development and delivery. The pilot course was funded as part of a $50,000 Michigan Economic Development Corporation grant for a PLM/MSV Training and Internship Program. The course was taught by Phil Nicholson, a subject matter expert in Jack from 4D Systems.

“We have been working with industry organizations and agencies such as Automation Alley and the Oakland County Economic Development and Community Affairs Office to develop PLM as part of the foundation of our ISE and Engineering Management programs,” Dr. Van Til said.

Dr. Van Til (left) assists a student in the PLM course.
A goal of the PLM Training and Internship program is to develop a series of PLM certification courses using various software tools such as Jack, Process Simulate, Plant Simulate, Robcad and Teamcenter. Course development and instruction will be obtained from industry subject matter experts in the field. Following an employer-driven plan, the certification courses will be designed to provide proficiency in employer-identified PLM software tools.

Alice Swanger, principal of Alimar LLC said, "This is the kind of program that begins to bring both practical skills and engineering acumen to business. Utilizing Modeling, Simulation and Visioning (MSV) tools, Product Lifecycle Management is a next-level, competitive business strategy. The program helps supply engineering talent to address a demand in local industry."

The PLM certification courses will be available to engineering students and recently graduated engineering students from any university. In addition, the courses will be open to engineers, either working or looking for career positions.

Companies interested in learning more about the PLM Internship and Training Program and its PLM certification courses can contact Dr. Van Til, ISE department professor and chair at or 248-370-2211.

To learn more about academic programs and partnerships in Oakland’s ISE department, visit the website at

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with nearly 20,000 students and more than 260 degree and certificate programs. To learn more about academics, achievements, and events at OU, visit the news site at and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.