Faculty Advisor

Richard. D. Sisson, Jr

Faculty Advisor

Amy Z. Zeng

Faculty Advisor

Chrysanthe Demetry

Faculty Advisor

Christopher A. Brown

Faculty Advisor

J T. Black

Faculty Advisor

Frank R. Hall

Faculty Advisor

Sharon A. Johnson


In recent years there has been great concern over what many are calling the “tuition bubble� in American higher education. Baumol and Bowen, in 1966, observed that personally delivered services, like a professor teaching in a university, are difficult to scale, which causes a continuing and compounded rise in real cost. Additionally, universities, in competing for students, tend to invest in expensive assets. The resulting cost of the education and the amount of student debt threatens to rise beyond the intrinsic economic value of a US college degree, especially in the face of equivalent substitutes. The overall objective of this research is not only to analyze but also to design, or re-design, some of the essential aspects of engineering education systems. A new design is proposed using principles from manufacturing, industrial engineering and axiomatic design. The proposed system is able to operate at lower costs while producing high-caliber engineers. The approach presented relies on the decomposition of the functional elements of engineering education as well as defining a quantum of learning as an inventory unit. Methods used include a value-added analysis, and value stream mapping, computer simulation and financial analysis. The results show that the net present value (NPV) for the student increases over the interval from [t start to t graduation] as the time to employment post gradation decreases for a given discount rate. This is due to receiving employment income sooner during the cash flow. Engineering schools might benefit economically from reduced costs and higher tuition revenue resulting from greater system capacity.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Manufacturing Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





value added, education, axiomatic design, manufacturing