C.J. Students Work on the “Assembly Line"

October 18, 2012

Dr. Elke Howe

hands on imageCARL JUNCTION, MO (SNS) – Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations said economic growth has its basis in the division of labor, the breaking down of large jobs into smaller components.

On Thursday, Oct. 17, students in Douglas Osborne's mathematics class at Carl Junction High School participated in an exercise to understand the application of mathematics to industry and the division of labor.

Dr. Elke Howe, head of the engineering technology department at Missouri Southern State University, worked with classes from just after 8:30 in the morning to nearly noon.

The students were involved in an industrial engineering situation as they produced airplanes from Legos.

In the first round, the students made the planes at several workstations, working carefully to streamline the manufacturing process. 

At the end of the round, they made improvement suggestions.

"We have the students look at the total number produced, how much scrap they had and at the efficiency of their assembly line," says Dr. Howe.

"They review these things with the hope of moving more efficiently on the next round."

The students worked in Mr. Osborne's class, a room ringed with numerous colorful college and university banners and orange Rube Goldberg-style roller coasters in the corners.

"Dr. Howe showed us how math is applied to the real world," said sophomore Jensen Smith, son of Rich and Stacey Smith of Carl Junction.

"We  saw how one person builds one part and passes it on to the next person, putting the planes together in pieces," Jenson said.

Junior Katie Skaggs, daughter of Derek and Tracie Skaggs of Carl Junction, said working together was the key:

smith skaggs"It's all about teamwork," Katie said. "You have to keep track by averaging speed to work together for a common goal."

"It important to keep track of the speed to make sure the construction process works properly to keep things moving – not producing 20 components and creating a backlog which slows the entire process down," Katie observed.

Dr. Howe told the students: "The process takes math and applies it to the assembly line."

"It also takes team building skills and it takes passion for what you are doing," she added. "That is the most important thing of all."

Dr. Howe said she anticipates seeing some of the students in another year or two in iengineering technology classes at MSSU.




Right: Carl Junction students Jenson Smith and Katie Skaggs. Photo by Rose Mary Ferguson
Top image by Curtis Almeter