Engineering Professional Learns Additive Manufacturing through Purdue Online and Industry Partners

John Barnes and Mung Chiang, Purdue’s John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering

Working engineers and executives interested in expanding their skills to include the rapidly growing area of additive manufacturing (AM) can earn two non-credit online certificates through Purdue Online - College of Engineering.

The courses are offered in collaboration with Purdue University’s School of Materials Engineering and The Barnes Group Advisors (TBGA), the leading independent engineering consultancy focused on additive manufacturing based in Pittsburgh. Course content covers an overview of AM, the 7 forms of AM and materials, design for AM, and economics and business and serves as a 100% online, flexible introduction for working professionals.

Mike Freeman, a Ford Motor Company senior engineer, took the course recently and says it gave him a strong understanding of the technologies and the seven major categories of AM. It provided a detailed understanding of how the technologies work and their rapid growth, the major industry-accepted terms, and the advantages and disadvantage of the seven AM methods. Freeman says he has applied what he learned to his work at Ford.

“It’s well known that the automotive industry is under a huge change from disruptive competitors and technology. As the metals advance, there’s going to be a strong push towards customization which AM will benefit,” says Freeman, whose work in Ford Body Structures Core Engineering involves looking at body applications of new technologies and body build strategies for future Ford models.

The AM course material, derived from TBGA industrial practice, is tailored to students like Freeman. It covers AM essentials, technology, DFAM, economics, and business, along with industry case studies that provide students with the knowledge, foundational skills and effective preparation for real-world application. The course is taught by TBGA professionals who have decades of consulting and industry experience. Freeman’s instructor was Purdue graduate John Barnes (BSMSE ’92, MSMSE ’94), TGBA founder and managing director.

“As I get toward the latter portion of my career, I really find more and more that I enjoy designing parts/systems. Working the geometry in the CAD tool, running the FEA for the analysis, running the optimization and ensuring that the design does not only meet the cost and weight targets but is fully optimized to cost and weight targets is really is gratifying to me,” Freeman says. “AM takes this to the next step, not only with creativity but also by giving the design engineer the manufacturing computer tools to do the job. AM allows for really natural designs (biomimicry) and puts the creativity and design aspects of CAD, FEA, optimization and manufacturing process computer tools right into the design creation. This is really cool stuff, at least for me.”

The course is designed for working professionals, with video lectures available 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the five-week course. Content also includes asynchronous online discussion forums, online self-tests, quizzes, a case study, and an online final exam. Students have the ability to interact with peers and instructors who are available by email for content questions not addressed within the learning materials or online threaded discussions.

Freeman says the course was easily manageable in spite of his 50-hour workweek and a commitment to working out several times a week. He says he got class time in two or three hours a few nights a week (with a side of chips and salsa), on Saturday afternoons when rain prohibited golf, and after dinner on Sundays. “Honestly, I really looked forward to doing this learning. Normally on Saturday afternoons, I would go hit golf balls, but if it rained, I filled the afternoon learning about AM. It rained a lot this spring in Michigan, so I got in a little more class time,” he says.


Writer: Linda Carrick Thomas, Featured Word Inc.


Please visit the Additive Manufacturing Certificate page for further information and to register.