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Lagrant Develops Trailblazing Process “to Prepare Our Students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution”

Jim Lagrant

Jim Lagrant

Jim Lagrant, a senior lecturer and Professor of Practice in Manufacturing in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, has received a $19,967 Faculty Research Grant, as provided by the Healy Endowment, from the UMass Research and Engagement Office. The grant will support Lagrant’s project that he says will develop a student-designed, adaptable process for smart manufacturing, which will have a broad impact on our engineering education and “prepare our students for the fourth industrial revolution.”

“The goal of this project,” according to Lagrant, “is to acquire hardware and software necessary for senior capstone teams to design and construct manufacturing equipment that will be used in engineering laboratories to teach Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing concepts.”

As Lagrant explains, the equipment will consist of commercially available automation components that industry employers have identified as necessary to the success of future engineers. He notes that “Subsequent student teams will be tasked with employing established pedagogical practices to structure new experimental procedures and learning modules that will be carried out using the equipment.”

Lagrant says the project will employ industry 4.0 technology such as augmented reality and role-based access control, which will allow the equipment to be available around the clock to on-campus students. Furthermore, smart sensing, cloud-based data storage, and analytics will allow the equipment to be accessed remotely.

“This will not only afford the students deeper understanding of the technology,” explains Lagrant, “but better prepare them as leaders in industrial digitization.”

According to Lagrant, “Looking forward, student projects, including capstone teams, independent studies, and honors projects, will be used to update the laboratory equipment as new industrial partnerships and associated technology become available. This will give the students practical experiences and expose them to physical hardware and real-world design challenges.”

Lagrant observes that the results of this project will be shared through multiple channels, including trade journals, conferences, and peer-reviewed publications.”

With additional funding, says Lagrant, the equipment and procedures and learning modules can be duplicated for use at the other UMass campuses, such as Mt. Ida, as well as continuing and professional education programs and community outreach. (September 2021)