The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Production Engineering

The Mechanical Laboratory shop course was first given in the second semester of 1881-82 as part of the work in mechanical engineering. The number of students in the course was confined to those who had taken theory of Workshop Practice during the first semester, and only six were permitted to enroll.

The first shop course, limited to six hours a week was taught by Cooley, and consisted of forge, machine, and pattern work. The work was continued in this manner for years. In 1883 the Regents authorized Cooley to employ, "under the direction of the President, such temporary skilled assistance as [might] be necessary in the Mechanical Laboratory, at an expense not to exceed $12 a week" (R.P., 1881-86, p. 307). Robert Winslow was engaged on these terms as Instructor in Foundry, and Clarence Taylor became Assistant in the Mechanical Laboratory. Winslow held his position until his death in 1905. The Regents voted in 1886 to change Taylor's title to Superintendent of Shops in the Engineering Laboratory. This is the first time the title appears, for Cooley had been in charge of the work as Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

In 1897 Taylor was appointed Professor of Mechanical Practice. He was succeeded in 1899 by William Lincoln Miggett ('99e [M.E.], M.E. '04), who was appointed Superintendent of Engineering Shops.

The instructors (known as foremen) in the various laboratories in 1888-89 were Robert Winslow, Foundry; John M. Smoots, Machine Shop; and Horace Purfield, Wood Shop.

A four-hour course in shop work was required of all first-year engineering students in 1905. Second-year students in mechanical engineering were required to take either course 2, Pattern-making and Foundry, or course 3, Machine Shop, both four-hour courses. From 1900, with the advent of modern high-speed steels, great interest was shown in metal cutting problems, and enrollment in shop practice courses increased.

It was decided in 1920-21 to change the plan of instruction from that of manual training to the teaching of principles related to modern industrial practice. From 1919 to 1922 Professor John Airey (London '10), of the Department of Engineering Mechanics, served as Acting Superintendent of Engineering Page  1272Shops. He was appointed to the position upon Miggett's resignation and served as Director until 1924. Woodworking 1, given continuously since 1882, was discontinued at that time as a required subject for first-year engineering students because it was felt that satisfactory instruction in this subject could be obtained in the high schools.

Forge Shop, devoted largely to manual training in the working of steel, had undergone little change until 1915, when the instruction was broadened to include the basic properties of iron and steel and the effect of heat treatment. The use of the scleroscope and the pyrometer was introduced, and an acetylene welding outfit was added during that year. The work, confined chiefly to forge working and forge welding of wrought iron and steel, was required of all first-year students.

In 1920, through an appropriation of $1,100, a chemical control laboratory was set up in connection with the Foundry Laboratory. An advanced Foundry Practice course dealt with melting practice in the cupola and other furnaces, molding and core practice, and with compositions and properties of cast metals. From 1922 to 1947 the instruction in the Foundry Practice courses was under the supervision of John Grennan, who was appointed Instructor for this purpose. Jig and Fixture Design 7, required of students in the five-year mechanical and industrial engineering program, was introduced in 1921. Foundry Costs and Organization was developed about 1922 for students desiring employment in foundries.

Foundry (Shop 3), given for years in combination with Pattern Making (Shop 6), was made a separate four-hour course in 1920 and for the first time was under the supervision of a technical graduate, Harry Linn Campbell ('14e [Ch.E.], M.S. '21), who was appointed Assistant Professor of Metallurgical Engineering in the same year to work on the technical and metallurgical improvement of the forge and foundry courses. In 1925 he was transferred to the Department of Engineering Shops, and in 1927 he became Associate Professor. He resigned in 1936 to accept an industrial position. The course then included metal castings, their design, selection, properties, and production, and all castings produced in the course, such as grate bars for clinker crushers in the Power Plant, manhole covers, and rollers for steampipes in the tunnels, were utilized by the University. The nature of the work was such, however, that each student spent too much time in doing a simple job which had little educational value.

Orlan William Boston ('14e [M.E.], M.E. '26) was appointed Assistant Professor of Machine Shop Practice in 1921. The following year he was made Acting Director of Engineering Shops during Airey's leave of absence, and in 1925 he became Director. In 1927 Boston was made Professor of Shop Practice and Director of the Engineering Shops, and in 1934 his title was changed to Professor of Metal Processing and chairman of the Department of Metal Processing. In 1936 he was appointed Custodian of the Gaging and Measuring Laboratory of the Detroit Ordnance District, which was then installed at the University.

Machine Shop 4, a laboratory course dealing chiefly with the use of simple machine tools, was required of students in mechanical and electrical engineering, but was dropped from the electrical engineering curriculum in 1922. When Airey was made Acting Superintendent of the Engineering Shops in 1919, he urged the revision of the course to cover the subject of management (see Industrial Engineering). As a result, a manufacturing operation was set up, and thousands of tools were produced.

Page  1273The idea of producing small tools in quantities was abandoned about 1924, and a new policy was adopted in the teaching of machine shop practice. The major manufacturing operations of the metalworking industries were studied in the classroom and used or demonstrated, as far as facilities and time permitted, in the laboratory.

Although removal of the entire shop equipment to the East Engineering Building in 1923 did not immediately increase the floor space available for the shop laboratories and offices, the new arrangement greatly improved operating conditions, and much new equipment was added. Brick sheds were constructed above the Wind Tunnel for the storage of raw materials. During the summer of 1933 the court was excavated, and the storage bins were put underground.

Equipment was installed to provide facilities for an elective course in woodworking. The content was adapted to the need of the individual student. Some students designed and made furniture; others made patterns and parts to be cast. From 1924 to 1932 the Woodworking Laboratory was used in connection with the dental shop course. After 1930 it was also used for making structural parts, such as airplane wings and ribs, and for tests in laboratory work in Materials of Aircraft Construction, introduced by Boston, but crowded out about 1936, although not officially dropped until 1951.

William Allen Spindler ('29e [Ch.E.], M.S. '33) was engaged as Instructor in Engineering Shops in 1930. He assumed charge of the courses in the working, heat treating, and welding of steel upon Campbell's resignation, and Assistant Professor Eugene Jesse Ash (Heidelberg College '25, M.S. Ohio State '27) was given charge of the work in cast metals and foundry until he resigned in 1941. In 1931-32 Metal Working and Treating (Shop 2) was elected simultaneously with the first general chemical engineering course. The lectures dealt with the elementary metallurgy of iron and steel, in order to give the student a better understanding of the theory and principles applied in the laboratory.

By 1935-36 enrollment in the Department of Metal Processing was far beyond the normal capacity. Crowded sections were taught every half-day during the week and Engineering Materials was given two nights a week.

A new course known as Measuring and Gaging, was introduced by Boston in 1936-37 to make the equipment of the new Gaging and Measuring Laboratory, together with a study of the principles of dimensional quality control, available to interested students.

The foundry, originally planned for sections of fifteen students, accommodated sections of forty to forty-five, although the equipment had not been changed since its installation in 1923. Parts Processing was introduced by Boston in 1945.

Lester Vern Colwell ('35e [M.E.], M.S. '39), appointed Instructor in Metal Processing in 1937 to assist in teaching Machine Shop, was promoted to a professorship in 1951. William Wayne Gilbert (Colorado '31e [M.E.], Sc.D. Michigan '35) was appointed Instructor in 1934 and became Professor of Metal Processing in 1950. He has taught Machine Shop and Machinability, which, when introduced by Boston, was the first course of this kind in the country. Robert Abernethy Smith ('34e [Ch.E.], M.S. '39) was appointed Instructor in Metal Processing in 1936 to assist Professor Spindler in teaching metalworking, heat treating, and welding. He resigned in 1939 to develop a metallurgical laboratory for Sears, Roebuck, and Company. William Calvin Truckenmiller ('39e [Met.E. and Ch.E.], M.S.E. '44) was appointed Instructor Page  1274in Metal Processing in 1941 and became Associate Professor of Production Engineering in 1949. Victor Julien Gauthier (Wayne '36e [Ch.E.], M.S. Michigan '43) was appointed Instructor in 1942. He was promoted to Assistant Professor to teach courses in metallurgy in 1946 and resigned in 1947 to accept a position at New York University. Robert E. McKee (Bowling Green State '35, A.M. Michigan '47) was put in charge of the Machine Tool Laboratory and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1951.

High enrollment in the department continued during 1942-43. Fourteen courses, eleven of which were for graduate as well as undergraduate students, were offered. Equipment during this period was used extensively by engineering students and by engineering aides and ordnance materiel and aircraft inspectors of the Army. Metal working and treating subjects were under the general supervision of Truckenmiller. Spindler was in charge of foundry work, and the machine tool and tool engineering work was divided among Boston, Gilbert, and Colwell. Boston served as educational supervisor and organized the staff, courses, and equipment. H. W. Miller served as administrative supervisor.

Training for the Detroit Ordnance District was continued during the entire year. Similar courses for the Air Corps in Aircraft Materials Inspection Training were begun in November, 1942; these were forty-eight-hour week classroom courses, the first sections of which ran for twelve weeks; subsequent sections ran for ten weeks to conform with the beginning and ending of the inspection courses. As these courses dealt primarily with metal processing equipment and subject matter, all members of the staff were in constant demand. Several members were required to supervise and teach twelve to twenty-four hours a week in addition to their regular University work. Gradually, men were recruited from outside, until eleven full-time instructors were engaged in this work.

The departments of Drawing, Mathematics, Engineering Mechanics, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Civil Engineering contributed generously by loaning instructors to carry a part of the teaching load. By 1943, in these three courses, 1,140 certificates of completion had been granted.

Boston gave a series of lectures in 1943-44 to students in the Judge Advocate General's School of the University on machine tools and accessories involved in the subject of contract termination.

During 1945-46 the Army donated to the department several hundred thousand dollars worth of equipment. The staff worked through vacations and even during the summer, doing everything possible to install the valuable tools. Many pieces of equipment were for use in mass production. These machines were moved in, cleaned, and painted by the staff at a total expense of $1,500 in addition to the regular annual appropriation for current account. All machine tools were installed and ready for use by the fall of 1947. Many instruments and gages and inspection equipment owned by the Armed Services, in the Detroit Ordnance District Gage Laboratory, were consigned to the University. It is estimated that machines and tools with a book value in excess of $1,000,000 were so obtained by the department.

Leslie E. Wagner ('27ed, M.A. '36) was appointed Assistant Professor in the fall of 1946 to develop courses in welding. Frank Walter Sowa ('46e [Ch.E.], M.S.E. '48) was appointed Instructor in 1946 Page  1275and promoted to Assistant Professor in 1950. William Telfer was granted sick leave in 1946, and became Instructor Emeritus in Metal Processing in June, 1951. Telfer had served the University continuously since 1911 except for a short period during World War I. Harold James Holmes ('46e [M.E.], M.S.E. '49) was appointed Instructor in 1946. He became Assistant Professor in 1949 and resigned during the following year to accept a position with the Ford Motor Company.

Franklin Bruce Rote ('38e [Met.E.], Ph.D. '44), who had several years' experience with the Wyman-Gordon Company, was appointed Assistant Professor in the departments of Metal Processing and Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering in 1946, to serve half time in each, to co-ordinate the work in foundry and metallurgical engineering. He directed the foundry work and developed an active program of research. He became Associate Professor in 1949 and resigned in 1951. He was succeeded by Richard A. Flinn (City College of New York '36e [Ch.E.], Sc.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology '41) in both departments in 1951. Professor Flinn had been assistant chief metallurgist for the American Brakeshoe Company.

Gerald Albert Conger (Oklahoma '44e [Ch.E.], M.S.E. Michigan '49) and Walter Bertram Pierce were appointed Instructors in 1947, when John Grennan retired. Conger resigned in 1952, and Kenneth Frederick Packer ('49e [Met.E.], M.S.E. '52), Instructor since 1951, was transferred to foundry work. With the co-operation of other units of the College and of industry Rote and Flinn successfully introduced the principles of sound metallurgy into the foundry.

In 1948, $14,000 was made available from funds of the Engineering Research Institute to install in the Foundry Laboratory a $25,000 induction melting furnace of four units that had been purchased for $700 from the War Assets Administration.

The Foundry Education Foundation of the American Foundrymen's Society in the spring of 1951 requested the University to establish an informal co-operative arrangement with their industry. This was promptly approved by the Regents, and the University was added to an already large list of schools having this agreement. Scholarships to the extent of $2,500 were made available, and a new student section of the society was organized and presented with a charter in February, 1952, at which time, the student membership numbered seventy. The Foundry Education Foundation co-operated with Professor Flinn in the study of the foundry layout, which was greatly improved by the addition of new equipment in 1952.

In 1948 the time devoted to Metal Processing 4, Machine Shop and Metal Processing 3, and Foundry by the mechanical engineers was cut from four to two hours. These courses were prerequisites to any additional courses in metal processing and were taken as electives or by graduate students. For several years prior to 1951, graduate students transferring from other schools and interested in the work given in metal processing had studied for the degree of master of science in engineering (industrial engineering) in the departments of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. This unsatisfactory arrangement led to a recommendation that the Metal Processing Department be designated as the Department of Production Engineering and that a separate bachelor of science degree in production engineering be granted. This recommendation was presented in the spring of 1951 at about the same time that a revised curriculum Page  1276in mechanical-industrial engineering and a program in materials engineering were proposed. The result was the establishment of the curriculum in industrial engineering with the two options (see Industrial Engineering). Option B in production, with Professor Boston as adviser, provided the opportunity desired for those students interested in this field.

The name of the department and the staff titles were changed from Metal Processing to Production Engineering. Boston was also made Professor of Mechanical Engineering to co-ordinate the work in production and mechanical design.

With the removal of departmental barriers and the better co-operation of the staffs of the various departments assured, industrial and production engineering has an opportunity to flourish at Michigan. This is the culmination of a task Dean Cooley assigned to Boston when he came to Michigan in 1921: to develop courses co-ordinating the work in design, metallurgy, and production.