Introduction to Manufacturing: Product Design & Innovation

Course Overview

Units at a glance

America has been called a land of consumers. Our society has become accustomed to the luxury of purchasing commodities from retail stores in a way that is convenient and affordable. Most of us don’t take the time to think much past the checkout line, however. Where do these products come from exactly? Were they made in our country or shipped in from somewhere else entirely? What machines and equipment were used to make the items we purchase? Who are the people involved in manufacturing and assembling the finished goods that line the shelves of our favorite stores?  This course will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the vast industry called manufacturing. In this unit, you’ll examine the basics of manufacturing, including a brief history and some of the basic processes and principles that work together to transform raw materials into useful and valuable commodities.

After learning about the various processes involved in manufacturing, you may think that strength or attention to detail is the key to being a successful employee in the manufacturing industry. Many people are surprised to learn that some of the most important skills required in this field aren’t at all physical in nature. In this unit, you’ll explore some of the “soft” skills that, when properly developed, can jump-start a career in manufacturing.

Think back to a time when you were required to work alongside others to achieve a common goal. Perhaps it was a school project or an extracurricular activity, such as a sport. What challenges did you face together? Many people have experienced or witnessed conflicts with others when working in teams. These conflicts can damage relationships and keep the team from accomplishing its goals. When a team is dysfunctional at work, it can cost the company money, so good teamwork is particularly important in the workplace. In this unit, you’ll learn about some of the most important teamwork skills employees need to be successful on the job, particularly in the manufacturing industry.

As you learned in the previous units, “soft” skills are those skills necessary to work well with people. People skills aren’t the only things to be concerned with in the manufacturing industry, however. Many employees who work in this field must operate machinery and equipment for manufacturing and assembling products. Others must develop strategies for manufacturing goods in a way that saves the company time and money. In this unit, you’ll discover some of these “hard” skills that enable employees in the manufacturing industry to do their jobs effectively.

As you’ve learned, engineering and manufacturing are closely related fields. Engineers are those men and women who work behind the scenes studying the manufacturing process, choosing the best equipment and machinery for the job, and even designing new products. While some of the tasks may overlap, engineers typically need a different skill set than manufacturing employees do. In this unit, you’ll learn about some of those skills that help engineers do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

There are many advantages to working in the manufacturing industry, but one of the downfalls is the exposure to risks and hazards. Because of the heavy equipment involved, manufacturing is one of the most dangerous industries there is. Each year, many workers in this field are injured and even killed on the job. Because of these serious risks, government regulations have been put into place to keep manufacturing employees safe while at work. In this unit, you’ll examine some of the most important guidelines that employers must follow to protect the men and women who work for them.

Over the duration of this course, you’ve learned about many different areas of manufacturing, from assembly line work to human resource management. Because the industry is so vast and complex, it offers many diverse career opportunities for potential employees. In this unit, you’ll explore some of those career opportunities. You’ll also have the chance to develop some personal career goals of your own.

Over the duration of this course, you’ve learned quite a bit about the manufacturing industry. In this unit, you’ll finally get to apply all that new knowledge to a project of your very own. If you’ve ever imagined inventing a new product, then you’re in luck! For this manufacturing project, you’ll be creating a new product from scratch, starting with the design and engineering process. You’ll get to choose how your product is manufactured and even develop a marketing plan for selling your finished goods.

Course Highlights

Trace the manufacturing process from start to finish.
Analyze how teams work together in the manufacturing process.
Try your hand at the design creation process.
Evaluate strategies for reducing product errors and defects.

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