Sorry to be a day late on this post, but the winter quarter begins today at Stanford, and with it the winter course "Good Products Bad Products" which uses my book of the same title (pictured in the banner of this blog, published by McGraw Hill). I was hoping to send you some specific information on the course, but the first meeting is tomorrow, so of course the material is not ready todoy. If you look in the category list (left side of this blog under recommended books) and click on "ME314 Stanford Course 2013" You will find some posts I wrote during the quarter last year that give you some details on the course (begin at the bottom). This year's course will be similar, but speakers and assignments will change—and, of course, the students.
I began this course many years ago to fill a void that I believed existed in engineering and business education and practise. During the priod 1970 to 1990 there was a great amount of attention paid to what was then called manufacturing quality. This was due to products and industries of previously dominant countries being overtaken by those of a few countries who were focussing on doing things better (Japan for instance) in areas such as reliability, quality of fits and finishes, general approach to manufacturing and management of same, and cleverness at such things as minimizing rejects and inventory control.The resulting reaction resulted in improvements in everythinig from quality of the products to corporate profit.
The topics considered were measurable and progress could be directly charted and rewarded. But there are many aspects of product quality that are not measurable, and very important in the overall quality of the product. The course and my book focus on these.
When I became an Emeritus Professor (retired), the course was taken over by Professor David Beach, the developer and director of the Product Realization Laboratory, an extremely successful program in the engineering school that focuses on integrated design and manufacturing. The course continues to improve. I wrote the book a couple of years ago to provide a text, and David has redesigned the course to include more outside speakers, a greater emphasis emphasis on the quality of student presentations, and more pertinent assignments. I will include the course outline and more details in my next post, but as a measure of the course quality and reputation, over 200 students wanted into the course, which unfortunately is limited by room size, the ability to get to know the students individually, and promoting meaningful presentations and discussions, to 60 students. In addition some 30 people who are working on graduate degrees, but also working in industry, take the course by means of the internet (it is an internet course, but definitely not a MOOC course).
If you have been reading my posts, you know that I care deeply about these issues, and I will continue to write about them and report on them in the context of the course as we go through the quarter. I am presently searching for people who have similar concerns about the overall product quality of industrially produced products. If you are one, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know other people who are, tell them about this blog and give them the message to contact me.
Higher product quality wins for everyone, and no matter how high the quality of a product, it could be even higher if we paid more attention to it, especially certain aspects of quality that are difficult to quantify .