Getting Comfortable at MIT

I love manufacturing.  Growing up, before I even knew what manufacturing was, “How it’s Made” was one of my favorite TV shows because it showed me how machines made all the things I used every single day.  Then, my freshman year in college, I took an introductory course in materials processing and was excited to find that there was a whole field of engineering that studied how things are made and how to make them better.

Four years later, I was drawn to the Master of Engineering in Manufacturing Program because it offered a comprehensive technical background to all the components of a manufacturing facility.   I came into the program excited for all four classes, and have yet to be disappointed.  In fact, I think I would have wanted to take these courses even if they weren’t required for the program.

In Mechanical Assemblies, we are learning how things are put together, and the constraints that are involved in designing even the simplest item.  On the first day of classes, the professor told us: “You will never look at a juicer the same way.”  Almost a month later, I don’t look at anything the same way.  When I see a stapler, I consider all the mating components and their functions.  When my sliding door at home gets stuck, I think about where to apply force to un-jam it.  And when I make cookies, I know the exact mechanisms of how my electric hand mixer works.

Meanwhile, between Manufacturing Processes and Intro to Manufacturing Systems, we are beginning to develop an overall understanding of how to evaluate a product, the process required to produce it on a large scale, and the quantitative and qualitative parameters associated with scheduling and maintaining production.  In Engineering Management, we are discovering the importance of all the finances associated with funding, marketing, and selling a new product or business.

I was born and raised in Massachusetts and went to school in Boston, so clearly I haven’t moved that far away.  But even so, MIT is an entirely new experience.   My fellow MEngers are from all over the world, and offer different perspectives on the importance of manufacturing.  Some of the most advanced (and coolest) machines were developed within these labs by the faculty that we interact with.  There are tons of events both on and off campus, and Cambridge is always alive and fun.  It’s amazing.

By the way, all the buildings are connected – I probably should have picked up on this sooner!  Still, even though I am terrible with directions, I can come out of any class and follow someone from the MEng Program, and I know I’ll end up in the right place.  We might be a small program, but we already travel in one large pack around campus.

In the coming months, we will finalize our industry projects and attend several seminars on Global Manufacturing from some of the top innovators in the world.  I can’t wait!

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