New Outsourcing Course Gives CU-Boulder Students Hands-On Experience With Trend

December 7, 2006

Editors: Media are invited to attend final classroom presentations on Dec. 13. The class is scheduled to meet from 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. in Eaton Humanities Building room 1B80.

University of Colorado at Boulder students are managing the design and building of several small products by an engineering company in India as part of a new, hands-on course focused on the trend of outsourcing.

Called "Global Engineering," the course was offered for the first time this fall by the department of mechanical engineering. Fifty students are enrolled.

The course was developed with input from the department's Industry Advisory Council and professors at the Leeds School of Business to teach engineering students the skills they need to succeed in an outsourcing environment, said Jack Zable, Industry Professor of Mechanical Engineering Design.

Zable co-teaches the course with senior instructor Derek Reamon, two members of the business faculty and various working engineers involved with outsourcing offshore. "As far as we can tell, we're the only engineering school in the country offering this type of course," Zable said.

Class sessions have focused on engineering economics, business planning, inventory and logistical considerations, protection of a company's core competencies, intellectual property, project management, cultural differences between Asia and America, and innovation and leadership.

Students are working with the company Precie Tools in Bangalore, India, to develop prototypes for a saw blade, steering wheel, brake rotor and other products. The prototypes are based on initial sketches and product specifications that the students sent to the company.

Precie Tools provided engineering services and sent each of the 10 student teams a computer-aided design, or CAD, drawing based on its product specifications. The students were asked to approve the technical drawings before their products were manufactured and sent to Boulder.

Weekly phone calls from Colorado to India have been made throughout the semester to make sure all the projects stay on track, Zable said. Each team also has been communicating with the company by e-mail on a regular basis.

Each team is now writing a report that evaluates the process and its outcome, including analyzing the cost of outsourcing the product as compared with producing it in the United States.

-The course is partially supported by the Engineering Excellence Fund, a student-run organization that distributes a portion of the fees paid by engineering students to support innovative projects in engineering education.