Researchers collaborate on $1.2 million project to lower product design and manufacturing costs


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State industrial engineering researchers are part of a collaborative team that has received $1.2 million in funding to develop an advanced framework that will allow engineers to share and process engineering data, as well as formally represent design and manufacturing-related knowledge throughout the product design lifecycle.

Janis Terpenny, professor and Peter and Angela Dal Pezzo Chair and Head of the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, is the principal investigator (PI) at Penn State. She is collaborating with researchers from Rolls-Royce (the lead institution), Georgia Tech, Boeing, John Deere and Sentient Science. The 18-month project is funded by the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII).

Dazhong Wu, a senior research associate with the Marcus department, is the co-PI on the project, titled “Lower Life Cycle Costs, Improve Design and Performance Robustness through the Digital Thread.”

Existing tools and methods in the design of products and systems have limited capacity to support automated knowledge sharing for decision making during the entire lifecycle of a product, explained Wu.

“The objective of this project is to develop an advanced system framework that enables various models at different levels of production to be integrated within an original equipment manufacturers’ product lifecycle feedback loop.”

The Penn State team, which includes graduate student Connor Jennings, is building design and manufacturing ontologies, which formally define the structure of data and how the elements of data relate to one another so that experts can share their domain knowledge on product design and manufacturing processes.

The goal of this project is to automate knowledge sharing among manufacturers and suppliers and enable them to make more informed decisions. For example, manufacturers will be better able to predict the engineering failures of their products and reduce their costs and machine downtimes by sharing cross-functional knowledge across different domains.

“If we are successful, we will be able to offer manufacturers a general framework from the highest to lowest levels of the product lifecycle,” said Terpenny.

DMDII was launched in 2014 through a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense and other partners to transform American manufacturing through digitization of the supply chain. The institute currently has more than 250 partner organizations from industry, academia, government, startups and community groups. DMDII is the first lab of UI LABS and is a member of the Manufacturing USA network.


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Pamela Krewson Wertz 



Home of the first established industrial engineering program in the world, the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME) at Penn State has made a name for itself in the engineering industry through its storied tradition of unparalleled excellence and innovation in research, education, and outreach.

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