Manufacturing involves the understanding and co-ordination of marketing, design, manufacturing engineering and factory operation - all within a financial and business context. The Manufacturing Engineering course at Cambridge is a unique two-year programme, which combines a thorough theoretical basis with the chance to put ideas into practice in industry. When students finish the course they are much sought after for demanding jobs, not only in manufacturing industry but also in other branches of engineering, consultancy or commerce. The course has an international flavour, with activities at home and abroad with students from European universities.
The first year of the Manufacturing Engineering course (your third year) is Cambridge-based and follows normal Cambridge terms. The integrated course covers the whole range of technical, organisational and economic aspects of industrial engineering. Lecture courses (taught modules) provide the academic framework for the subject, and these are complemented by design and project work, a structured set of industrial visits and a programme of personal and business skills development.
The ten taught modules are:
- Materials into products
- Operation and control of production machines and systems
- Product design
- Operations management
- Industrial engineering
- Organisational behaviour
- Managing business and people
- Financial management and accounting
- Industrial economics, strategy and governance
- Contemporary issues in manufacturing
The project work includes a major project combining marketing, design, manufacture and business. In small teams, you research the market for a novel product, prepare a business plan, and finally produce a full technical and business proposal. There is a substantial industrial and professional input to the content and assessment of this project.
The outputs from these projects are showcased in a Design Show held each year for an invited audience of industrialists, designers, venture capitalists, academics, friends and relatives. Recent projects have included design and demonstration models of a rocking chair to calm autistic children; a solar-powered refrigeration unit; a low-cost water purification unit for developing countries. Students are encouraged to enter entrepreneurship competitions; some projects are turned into reality.
The structure of the final year of the course is very different from a standard undergraduate course. Teaching is organised in intensive modules interspersed with periods in industry doing real industrial projects. Terms are longer than standard Cambridge teaching terms, and learning is achieved through seminar-style sessions and practical experience rather than from formal lectures. Assessment is based on project reports, a number of short tests through the year, and two synoptic three-hour written examinations at the end of April.
Modules cover the full range of manufacturing industry and have a strong practical orientation, focusing on the application of academic concepts to technological and business problems in industry. Modules cover:
- Production technology and materials
- Manufacturing systems engineering
- Industrial systems, operations and services
- Managing people
- Technology and innovation management
- Strategy and marketing
- Enterprise, globalisation and policy
- Sustainable manufacturing
The manufacturing systems engineering module is complemented by a robotic assembly exercise, in which students work in teams of up to 10.
Drawing on material covered in the course, you undertake about six weeks of industrial projects. In pairs or small groups you work on site in a company, tackling a real problem of current importance to them. Although support and guidance is provided, you have to be largely self-reliant and use your own initiative and resources. At the end of the project you make a presentation of your findings to the company, and complete a full written report a few days later. The course concludes with a substantial individual project, which again is aimed at solving a real industrial problem and which may take place in Cambridge, elsewhere in the UK or abroad. Recent projects have included assessing the carbon footprint of Network Rail, and introducing PET bottle recycling in Jordan.
Overseas Research Project
The finale of the two-year programme is the overseas research project, which is largely organised by students. You devise and research a topic, set up company visits, arrange transport and accommodation, and raise funds from UK industry. The findings from the investigation are presented to sponsors and other interested industrialists in a written report. Recent tours have visited China, the USA, Brazil and India.