An Inter-University Collaborative Undergraduate Research/Learning Experience for Product Platform Planning


Product Platform Planning is an emerging philosophy that calls for the planned development and deployment of families of related products. It is markedly different from the traditional product development process, which focuses on optimized designs for individual products. Product family planning places a much higher demand on management of information of multiple types and from multiple sources. In response, researchers at four universities are collaborating on the development of an information technology infrastructure to support product platform planning. This is a relatively new development in engineering design that is typically not part of the undergraduate education; therefore, we see an intrinsic relationship between the need for integrating the development of research directly with educational enhancements to teach students about these concepts. This paper describes an undergraduate research/learning experience where students from each of the participating institutions worked collaboratively in support of the overall research project. To enhance the students' education, they spent several weeks in a focused experience at two of the universities with visits to the others. The intent was to broaden their perspectives on the operations at different schools and promote interest in graduate school while learning about product platform planning. We describe the structure of the program along with the activities undertaken by the students. We also include an assessment of the program by the students and plans for improving our future offering of this program.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Management of Information; Planned Development; Product Platform Planning

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2005 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2005