Industrial teaching collaboration in Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Mozafar Saadat, Senior Lecturer

Within the Mechanical Design B module offered to Year 3 Mechanical Engineering MEng/BEng students Dr. Mozafar Saadat, Senior Lecturer and module co-ordinator, collaborated with Moog Controls Ltd, part of the global company Moog Aerospace in order to enrich the students’ design learning experience by providing an industrially relevant case study. Moog offered a real-life engineering project in the area of Design For Assembly (DFA) of aerospace hydraulic servovalves and seconded two engineers to act as industrial supervisors during class sessions in the School’s Design Centre for 4 weeks during the spring term.

Through this module the students experienced direct interaction with industry through a real mechanical engineering project. The project was conducted by 39 groups of three students each in a competitive basis and proved to be a huge success. The winning group, Ian Duncan, William Fowler and Dave Bell, were invited to Moog's production site at Tewkesbury on 24 June 2014 and where they were each awarded the joint Moog-University of Birmingham Best Design for Assembly certificate by the company's Managing Director. They were also offered the opportunity to spend summer placements with the company. 

This project could not have succeeded without the full support of the company and dedication of a number of their engineers at all levels including Paul Guerrier, Matt Smith, Dhinesh Sangiah, and also Peter Oliphant, who is Mechanical Engineering alumnus and Design and Development Engineer at Moog Controls Limited. Peter writes:

“As a graduate from the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Birmingham, I had no idea that 10 years later I would be working in collaboration with the University on projects with current students looking at real world engineering issues.  The collaboration between the University of Birmingham and Moog Controls Limited looked at the issue of Designing for Assembly.  Working in industry I regularly see that it is easy to add complexity into a design that can in turn become not only difficult for assembly but also time consuming leading to increased manufacturing costs.  Designing a component that is simple to manufacture with a minimal part count is often the biggest hurdle an engineer has to face.  The project set to the 3rd year students was to take an existing Moog component which has in excess of 20 components and improve the assembly through design and/or through fixturing/tooling.  Working first hand with the students it was clear to see that the next generation of engineers coming out of the University of Birmingham have a clear understanding of real world issues.  The design solutions offered by the 3rd year students showed technical understanding of the component and issues coupled with innovative design solutions which had a clear design and development structure planned out to verify their proposals.  The collaboration was a great success and Moog Controls Limited looks forward to continuing the partnership with the University of Birmingham.”

Moog

From Left: William Fowler, Amir Hajiyavand (Module TA and PhD student), Ian Duncan, David Bell, Matt Smith (behind), Moog Controls MD, Dr. Karl Dearn, Dr. Mozafar Saadat, Peter Oliphant