Manufacturing and the Society

Project: Create a plan for a quadcopter drone manufacturing plant in Ann Arbor

Drones have gained popularity with total market value predicted over $100 billion by the year 2020, according to a report by Goldman Sachs. Currently, most of the drone and drone components are manufactured outside the US. There is a need and opportunity to make Ann Arbor the center for drone manufacturing in the US. Currently, DJI (a $2.8B company started by an engineering student in Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2006) has 74% market share.

Quadcopter drones with the four-rotor design are the most popular because of its simple structure yet being highly reliable and maneuverable. Quadcopter drones have been widely used in firefighting (e.g. the Notre Dame fire), agriculture, military and law enforcement, photography and journalism, and performing art (e.g. Intel 500 drones in Super Bowl LI halftime show), and others (e.g. this video).  

In this Engineering 100 section, students will work in teams to create a plan to establish a new manufacturing plant in Ann Arbor for a civilian quadcopter drone.  Your team needs to select and justify the competitiveness in the market for a specific type of drone to be manufactured at Ann Arbor. Manufacturing is central to the economy as it is the main driver of economic growth and critical sector of job creation. The team needs to demonstrate in the comprehensive plan that your Ann Arbor drone manufacturing plant is competitive from both technology and business perspectives.

Through this project, students will learn all aspects of a successful manufacturing company, including the competitive product, value proposition, prototyping, manufacturing processes, production machines, manufacturing systems, logistics and supply chain, manufacturing facility planning and management, and inspection and quality control.

Lectures will cover topics including manufacturing processes and systems, fabrication processes for plastic, metal, and composite materials, engineering design methodology and optimization based on customer survey, manufacturing inspection and quality control, manufacturing automation and product life cycle, and global manufacturing and business strategies.