Engineers Learn Basic Manufacturing Skills at FIU

A required course for the mechanical engineering majors at Florida International University is Manufacturing Processes, located in the University’s Engineering Manufacturing Center. It is here that they roll up their sleeves and get into the practical side of advanced manufacturing under the guidance of the Center’s coordinator and instructor, Richard Zicarelli.

The Manufacturing Center is responsible for bringing students into contact with various industrial fields. All graduating engineers here must be involved in a senior design project, during which they work within a multi-disciplinary team, often working with a vendor or industry professional to help solve an issue or problem ranging from medical to automotive to aerospace and beyond.

Zicarelli points out that although the students’ aim is to have a career in engineering, it is important for them to understand the CAD/CAM functions of automated manufacturing. He makes sure the students are fully versed in hand coding before introducing Mastercam into the designing and programming of various parts and components. He says that Mastercam is very easy for him to teach and for the students to learn and that they get excited when they realize the push of a button replaces the tedium of extensive hand coding.

Zicarelli says that FIU is not in the business of producing programmers or machinists, but that they are graduating mechanical engineers. The reason they emphasize training in CAD/CAM and CNC machining is to instill in them the foundations of the three F’s in manufacturing—Fit, Form and Function. These foundations must be addressed in each of their senior projects, whether it is a precision component, an assembly, or an injection mold. If any of the functions have not been followed correctly, they make the necessary changes in Mastercam to assure machining success.

Does all this work? It must, because FIU’s graduates go on to careers at Lockheed, Boeing, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and other prestigious companies, large and small, all across America.