School of Engineering and Computer Science

OU's ISE Department featured in new PLM book

Case study explores OU’s efforts to integrate PLM concepts, techniques and tools into its ISE curriculum

icon of a calendarJune 17, 2019

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Oakland University’s ISE Department featured in new PLM book
Robert Van Til
Robert Van Til, Ph.D., Pawley professor of lean studies and chair of the ISE Department.

The efforts of Oakland University’s Industrial Systems and Engineering (ISE) Department to integrate Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) concepts, techniques and tools into its curriculum are highlighted in Product Lifecycle Management (Volume 4): The Case Studies — the latest book by Dr. John Stark, an internationally recognized expert on PLM.

“It was quite an honor to be invited by John to submit a case study,” said Robert Van Til, Ph.D., Pawley professor of lean studies and chair of the ISE Department. “I believe it’s a positive reflection on both the quality and the innovative nature of our educational programs.”

PLM follows a product through all the stages of its lifecycle, including conception, design, engineering, manufacturing, service and disposal.

For his book, Stark invited several organizations to write a case study on how their organization has integrated PLM. Stark said he invited Professor Van Til to participate because “he knew that Oakland University's approach to bringing PLM into a student's learning activities is one of the best, not just in the U.S., but in the world."

“OU’s ISE Department has integrated PLM concepts and tools into its bachelor’s and master’s programs in ISE, as well as its master’s programs in engineering management and systems engineering,” Van Til said. “This integration caught the attention of Dr. Stark, and when he began editing his new book, he contacted me to request the submission of a case study describing how the ISE Department is integrating PLM concepts, techniques and tool into its curriculum. The resulting case study became Chapter 3: Integrating PLM into Engineering Education.”

The case study focuses on three aspects of the integration:

• Integration of PLM techniques and tools into existing courses;

• Development of new courses that teach PLM tools and their application;

• Development of a PLM dual education/internship program with industry.

The first aspect began in 2011 when the ISE department joined the Siemens PLM Academic Partnership Program. This partnership gave the department access to industry-relevant PLM software tools such as Plant Simulation (throughput simulation), Jack (ergonomic simulation), Process Simulate Robotics, MindSphere (data analytics) and Teamcenter (store and manage product requirements as well as product design, manufacturing and service data). These PLM software tools were integrated into various existing courses.

The second aspect involved the development of half semester elective courses that allow students to take a “deep-dive” into how to operate and apply a particular PLM software tool. These courses were developed due to feedback received from students, alumni and employers of alumni. An illustration of their value has been the willingness of companies to enroll their working engineers into individual courses on a non-degree basis. In addition, an OEM hired an Oakland University ISE graduate as their first “Digital Manufacturing Engineer.”

The third dual education/internship aspect involves the development of an Industry 4.0 Internship Program. Basically, the internship involves a company paying an ISE student to take the half semester course on a particular PLM tool. The intern is then paid to work on a company supervised project using the PLM tool (part time during the semester and full-time during the summer). The internship program is being rolled-out in 2019-20 after a successful pilot was conducted during 2018-19 with interns working at an OEM and an aerospace company.

“The integration of these PLM tools and techniques into our programs has been a real value-add for our students,” Van Til said. “We have been contacted by several companies in Southeast Michigan and throughout the U.S. about hiring our graduates due to their hands-on skills using these PLM tools."

“We have also been contacted by several universities both in the U.S. and internationally — Australia, China, Germany, Italy and Russia — wanting to learn about the integration of PLM tools and techniques into our curriculum.”

To learn more about the ISE department and its degree programs in Industrial and Systems Engineering, Engineering Management, and Systems Engineering, visit

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