Total Design becomes a reality

Apr 1, 2004

A ten-year investment by the Hougen Foundation results in a state-of-the-art "Total Design Studio" allowing Kettering students to take their ideas from concept to completion.

The last of the old equipment is on a dolly and headed out the door as the latest acquisition in the Hougen Design studio, three new milling machines and a new lathe, are installed and readied for use.

Because of the Hougen Foundation, Kettering's 'Total Design Studio' concept has become a reality in the Hougen Design Studio, encompassing three adjoining rooms that enable students to take a project from design through manufacturing and testing. The most recent Hougen Foundation donation to the lab was $40,000 for the 2003 year. Since 1993 the Hougen Foundation has donated a total of $216,950 to the Hougen Design Studio.

"This has been about a ten year project for us," said Massoud Tavakoli, professor of Mechanical Engineering. "We started talking to E. Douglas Hougen of Hougen Manufacturing Inc. when the company was still located in Flint." Now located in Swartz Creek, Mich., the company produces hole making and cutting tools for on-site fabrication or factory applications.

"Mr. Hougen had been an instructor at Kettering when it was still known as GMI," said Tavakoli, "he originally agreed to donate machinery to our program and then started supporting this lab financially." The lab was later named "The Hougen Design Studio" in honor of the Hougen family's support.

The 'Total Design Studio' concept creates an environment where design creativity teamwork takes precedence over lecturing. Kettering's 'Introduction to Design' course relies heavily on the Hougen Design Studio, which allows students to "follow a project through the entire process from design to manufacturing to testing," said Gary Hammond, professor of Mechanical Engineering. "When you think of Kettering, this is what you think of, the type of education where people actually design, build and test a project. It's a unique experience, especially for sophomores," he added.

Tavakoli agrees, "I believe in other schools there is so much pressure to go to virtual everything, this lab probably makes us unique in the country. Not too many universities nationwide try to keep up labs of this magnitude," Tavakoli said, "it's very difficult to do."

"The equipment in this lab when we first inherited it in 1983/84 was metal cutting machinery that we had to use for wood cutting. It was extremely unsafe," Tavakoli said. "It was overpowered for what we wanted to do."

"If it weren't for the Hougen Foundation we'd have a lot of old equipment in here that would not be worth much," added Hammond, one of four faculty members who teach in the lab. "The last old piece that is on its way out is probably one of the better pieces we inherited, and it dates to the 1930's. It's pre-WWII equipment left over from General Motors Institute Tech (GMIT)," Hammond said.

The Hougen Foundation support has not only allowed replacement of old equipment, but has enabled Kettering to double the number of machines in the lab and provide every student their own tool kit for use during the term.

In addition to equipment donations and financial support, the Hougen legacy includes an endowment fund to underwrite the cost of consumables. "There are a lot of consumables in this lab," Tavakoli said, "we go through a lot of wood, screws and nails every year, and we can't recover a whole lot of it."

"From the beginning of our relationship with Mr. Hougen we anticipated we would need an endowment fund to cover the consumable costs for this lab. With every donation from the Hougen Foundation, a portion goes into an endowment. The endowment is currently valued at about $50,000," Tavakoli said.

"We owe the Hougen family and foundation many, many thanks," said Hammond.

Written by Dawn Hibbard
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