Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Materials Science and Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

John Wagner

Committee Member

Cameron Turner

Committee Member

Richard Miller


To compete in the global marketplace, companies need to embrace virtual design and manufacturing methods. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) embodies both the workflow processes and tools to bring forth products from conception to design to fabrication to service to decommissioning, and to eventual recycling. In response to the growing demand for engineers and technicians with these critical skills, colleges and universities should introduce these virtual tools through seminars, software workshops, and computer laboratory sessions. Some of the opportunities in the PLM Center at Clemson University include short courses on PLM practices, focused software training sessions, hands-on exploration activities, and research projects. The participants across campus include creative inquiry students, capstone design classes, graduate researchers, and community outreach for K-12 students. Through these interactions, participants will gain insight into the challenges and opportunities with virtual engineering processes and software. The recent worldwide pandemic has demonstrated the need for engineers skilled in virtual design methods to enable the digital design, manufacturing, and support processes to occur in, and remote of, the workplace.

Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) methods embody the software tools that bring forth products from conception to design. A variety of packages are available, which allow for the progress of a product to be tracked and detailed changes to be made along the way. One complex product currently designed using CAE software is a natural gas fired turbine for electrical power generation. In these thermo-dynamic rotational systems, blade cooling using internal forced airflow is vital to withstand the operating temperatures in the combustion chamber. Accordingly, ribbed surface disruptors, known as turbulators, are placed inside the turbine blades to promote air mixing to help remove heat from the hot surfaces. Three CAE patterning features will be examined to create these turbulators with evaluation metrics based on the execution speed, accessibility, accuracy, adaptability, and relevance. The numerical case study results revealed that the face pattern method was the most suitable option with productivity time improvements of 5% in comparison to the feature and geometry pattern approaches. The feature pattern method proved to be viable for smaller modeling changes which require significant detail. However, the geometry patterning method did not show any indications of being a usable option over the others in any scenario tested.

To prepare the next generation of engineers for these PLM processes and software tools, a PEER & WISE workshop module has been created for students to engage with these virtual concepts. In these four-day, 90-minute sessions, middle school students will learn about engineering design processes, fundamental engineering and science concepts, and CAD software. They will create virtual mechanical components using CAD software, while hands-on tasks will enable the creation of mechanical assemblies using discrete components to demonstrate the functionality of gears and drivelines. To assess the student experience, a survey was created and submitted for IRB approval. The pandemic created a unique situation for these prepared sessions as students could not participate right away, however, they will be offered in the future.



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