- reforming, innovating and developing endlessly ...


Study On Innovation Teaching for Industrial Engineering

Xiao-qing Huang, Xing-shan Qian


Department of Business, University Of ShangHai for Science & Technology, ShangHai 200093, China

([email protected])


This paper first discusses the relationship between innovation and industrial engineering. The nature of Industrial engineering is innovation---continuous innovation. So based on this, this paper puts forward the cultivation aim of IE should train the students’ innovative ability. Then, this paper focuses on studying how to train the students’ innovative ability and continuous innovative ability that major in IE. There are four methods to train innovative ability, and that is: strengthening practice link, introducing project-guiding cultivation mechanism, training creative thinking and carrying out innovative teaching methods experiments. For training continuous innovative ability, this paper puts forwards that the educators should have teaching thoughts of continuous innovation and explore the system of innovative quality education. Finally, this paper studies what the innovative team consists of and how to operate it in colleges or universities. The methods have made good results and have always been received praise by the students.



innovation, innovative ability, industrial engineering, training

reforming, innovating and developing endlessly by finding problems, analyzing problems and seeking countermeasures.

Now information technology has become a fundamental tool of technical innovation, management innovation and business model innovation. But a lot of information technology, such as CIMS, MRP, ERP and

SCM and etc, is closely related to IE or is developed based on IE. Enterprise informatization expands the vision and touch of managers, and makes managers gain real-time information of market or/and production site .Then managers can timely respond to it. In addition, through IT we get the unprecedented ability of resource planning and management. But in order to ensure the realtime and accuracy of data exchange, enterprise informatization must be established under the environment of standardized operations and standardized management. Those can be only provided by IE.

Nowadays, people pay more and more attention to how enterprise informatization brings benefit. But only


In the 21st century, advanced manufacturing technology, advanced management technology and enterprise informatization involved in IE can make greater benefit. This is because IE provides system optimization theory and method to enhance and improve enterprise efficiency. Meanwhile, IT provides tools and methods for information technology are constantly emerging, and especially the development of world economy transforms from manufacturing economy towards innovation economy


. Modern industrial engineering should follow the trend of the times to train innovative talents for industrial engineering, to improve the students' innovation ability and to stimulate the students' creative thought. This is becoming a focus of concern in all kinds of enterprises, the implementation of IE.

In summary, IE plays an important and irreplaceable role in promoting enterprise innovative ability and increasing benefit. IE is also the essential key tool for sustainable development of enterprise innovative ability. social organizations and universities. Especially, colleges and universities as producers of talents must try to explore teaching method to train innovative talents for IE, with high comprehensive quality and strong innovation ability.


A. Reorientation of cultivating objective for IE

Because IE engineers need to have strongly

"improvement awareness" and "incremental innovative ability", especially under the call of construction of an innovation-oriented nation, people attach more and more importance to “innovation”. The training objective of IE


The nature of Industrial engineering is innovation--continuous innovation.

The core of IE is that “improvement never ends”, which is to innovate upon the operation of the system engineers should be embodied in the training of innovative talents with creative thinking, and integrating innovation education into profession which is the inevitable extension of innovative education and injects continuously around the target. Industrial engineering is the creative solutions of various complicated contradictions, which can integrate production factors effectively and form an organic whole process. It can innovate upon the system management through technical means, and meanwhile promote technological innovation efficiency through the system management.

From the date of birth, IE has emphasized continuous improvement and innovation, which is the essence of IE and professional spirit. The philosophy of the talents for

IE is there is “No best only better”. So IE has been intension into the professional innovative talents.

Therefore, the cultivation aim for IE major is to train the talents with innovative ability of modern IE and application ability of Classical IE, and with solid theoretical knowledge and basic technical skills for engineering and management. See Fig1.

B. Innovative ability training

B.1 Strengthening practice link

innovative ability of modern IE application ability of Classical IE solid theoretical knowledge and basic technical skills for engineering and management

Fig.1 Reorientation of cultivating objective for IE

Innovation is not without foundation, which is obtained through continuous practice. IE is a practical subject. Only applying basic method of IE to practice can make profit. According to many years’ observation, at least 90% of domestic enterprises are urgent to have localization talents for IE. It makes higher request for practical ability of IE major. It’s imperative for IE to do research on strengthening practical innovation teaching.

On the hand, strengthen experimental teaching.

University laboratory, as the important base of production, study and research, is the main place to cultivate students' scientific experiment ability and innovative ability, the main place to produce high level of scientific research and the main place to serve economic construction. University laboratory plays a significant role in promoting all-round education and cultivating innovative talents. Because IE starts relatively late in China, coupled with many factors of its subject characteristics, capital and technology, most construction of university laboratory is not very satisfactory. IE laboratory construction is hard to keep pace with specialty construction, far behind the classroom teaching. It makes professional practice difficult to become a system. It also leads to students' worse practical ability, against the cultivation of innovative IE.

The construction of Innovative IE laboratory is to build a bridge between theory and practice, which can provide students with practical training platform and can train students' project practical ability, innovative ability and other comprehensive qualities. Thus, it can deepen the students' understanding of the theory of IE and improve the students' operational ability.

On the other hand, strengthen social practice.

Colleges and universities should create the opportunity of social practice for the students. And they can also encourage students to participate in innovation and selfemployment. But in fact, in many colleges and universities of China, it’s hard to develop social practice of IE major effectively. Colleges and universities arrange short-term practice as far as possible, but the students are required to solve long-term practice ,which results in that social practice becomes a mere formality. Schools should strengthen the construction of practice base, and should actively explore practice mode of combining visit practice with production practice. Social practice should be involved in the actual operation of manufacturer. Through visiting, listening to reports or interviewing, make the students know production process, processing methods and management method, and then further let the students analyze and discuss them.

In addition, schools can provide simulation practice on the basis of computer application technology, which can replace part of the tradition practice inside and outside school. Some colleges and universities have made some attempt on it.

B.2 introducing project-guiding cultivation mechanism

Colleges and universities should provide a good research platform to students, adhere to the coordinated development of knowledge, ability and quality, and pay attention to combining theory with practice and combining teaching with research. High-grade undergraduates of IE should take active part in the related scientific research of professional teachers, and try their best to make possible improvement and innovation based on the research of previous students. It’s very important to strengthen process specifications, knowledge management, project management and version management. Highgrade undergraduates of IE can also apply for innovative research project themselves and participate in expert lecture and academic report regularly.

In general, the mechanism is to cultivate the students' creative thinking and ability to analyze and solve problems, because it puts all the knowledge they have learned together.

B.3 Teaching Creation and training creative thinking

Colleges and universities can pay attention to teaching Creation and open an “experimental class of training innovative ability ". It offers intensive training of divergent thinking, one of creative thinking. The goal of all is to make the students learn and use creative techniques systematically.

About creative thinking training, colleges and universities should emphasize making it more interesting, train trainee operational ability and avoid it boring. It means that the trainee uses all kinds of creative techniques to achieve certain or potential target based on a certain thing. There are some effective training methods, such as games, experiments, discussions, gizmos, small creations and etc.

B.4Carrying out innovative teaching methods experiments

Innovative teaching methods experiments will make students become masters in schoolroom and train their innovative abilities through research assignments and

SRT. Experiments also develop the students' group learning behavior and establish the unique professional culture of IE. Teachers can design intercrossing student teams according to teaching contents, and manage student's learning process through electronic information platform. In the experimental teaching method, one-third of class time for every course will focus on students' discussion.

Before class, the teachers provide the syllabus and information about how to deal with in-class problems, such as how to guide students to ask questions and how to assign homework and etc. Then through the classroom record, the teachers analyze students' reaction. Class discussion does greatly enhance the students' satisfaction

to the teaching, strengthen their learning interest and doesn’t reduce their understanding of knowledge.


Continuous innovative ability training

The nature of Industrial engineering is innovation--continuous innovation. Colleges and universities must cultivate IE talents with continuous innovative ability.

First, change the teaching thoughts. Educators should have teaching thoughts of continuous innovation. To meet the needs of the nation and enterprises, teachers should constantly modify, update and add to the teaching contents, using the latest method. Many teaching material is the old version, far behind the times. Teaching thoughts of continuous innovation requires teachers to inject new content into teaching continuously. Of course it also requires teachers to grasp the latest knowledge and the latest information continuously. To evaluate a student can appropriately add the measure of encouraging the students to innovate, such as science & technology paper award, invention award, enterprise planning game, stock market simulation game and etc. In addition, encourage students to choose optional courses from other department, other academy and other school.

Second, explore the system of innovative quality education gradually. During four years at college, innovative activities have been going on constantly, a line from in-class courses, experiments, after-class innovation to graduation design. Pay attention to teach students in accordance with their aptitude, and promote their personality education and innovation education.

Continuous innovative quality education should be penetrated to the whole education process and to every link of teaching. We need to explore the construction mode of teaching team with high teaching quality and reasonable structure. An effective mechanism of team cooperation should be established, in order to promote the reforms of teaching content and methods, promote the teaching research and teaching experience exchange, and build innovative teacher teams with solid professional knowledge, reasonable knowledge structure, and strong scientific research ability.


Application Effect

The above mentioned methods have been adopted by some colleges and universities in China. For example, about strengthening practice link, many colleges and universities have built human factors engineering laboratory, logistics engineering laboratory and fundamental industrial engineering laboratory. Based on these laboratories, the universities pay attention to innovatively design some experiments. About teaching

Creation, Anhui University of technology has adopted this way. As for carrying out innovative teaching methods experiments, it has been used by Tsinghua University.

Using these methods has made good results and has always been received praise by the students. They do deepen the students’ understanding of the theory of IE and improve the students' operational skills. And more importantly they do improve the students’ innovative ability.




Members of innovative team

In innovative team for IE, the backbone is young and middle-aged professional teachers, while the main force of it is undergraduate students. Based on scientific research and academic exchange, innovative team realizes the interactive growth of the individual and organization and plays a whole role by cooperation. According to the knowledge and skills, innovative team can be divided into three and form a pyramid. See Fig 2. teacher

& graduates high-grade undergraduate s lower-grade undergraduates


A Pyramid of Innovative Team

The first level consists of young and middle-aged teachers and graduate students, responsible for the overall design and team leadership. The second level, which is composed of high-grade undergraduates, carries out research according to project progress and provides project introduction or project technical support to lowergrade undergraduates. The third level is a group of lowergrade undergraduates, who under the lead of high-grade undergraduates, strengthen knowledge and skills with direction and purpose and gradually enter the second level.

In vertical direction, teachers, graduate students and undergraduate students form a pyramid of team cooperation mode. Graduate and undergraduate students make innovations by division of labor and cooperation, around of the project. There is no limit to ages and degrees, and students in different grades or different degrees work together to achieve common development and common innovation.

In horizontal direction, innovative team members for

IE come from different universities, different majors or different degrees. The team not only conforms to the needs of the development of cross subjects, but also matches the development characteristics of knowledge production with multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary.

Meanwhile, the team cultivates the students' team spirit and cultivates the students' ability of communication and collaboration, under the multicultural environment.

B. Operation of innovative activities

The subject of IE should hold all kinds of competitions and innovative experiment projects, in order to make the students in a state of innovating and exploring.

Now, Science and Technology Contest for undergraduate and National Undergraduates Innovating

Experimentation Project are important ways to promote the students to engage in science & technology innovation.

Meanwhile, they are also important means to train the students' creative ability of science & technology. But those are not enough.

The students' science & technology innovative activities should become both the foundation and the core of the student’s cultivation. The innovative activities should be designed to fundamentally inspire the students’ insight, imagination, thinking, judgment, and flexibility, and should be designed to encourage the students to innovate constantly. It can make students transform from

"letting me create" to that "I want to create". The operation of innovation activities for IE should also pay attention to the following questions:

First, colleges and universities should attach importance to the innovative activities for IE, and organize high-level innovative activities. They shall establish the students' innovative activities platform and provide the necessary resources to advertise activities, declare achievements, and evaluate and announce results.

They should carry out the construction of teacher team, enhance their service consciousness for the students and improve the level of organization for science & technology innovative activities.

Second, colleges and universities should build the academic research environment, which is good for innovation and full of life. They should strengthen infrastructure construction and establish sites and facilities suitable for the students' learning and research.

It’s good for academic research and communication to create loose, harmonious, democracy and open atmosphere.

Third, colleges and universities should set up the special teachers to strengthen innovation guiding. Of course, colleges should formulate the responsibilities of teachers and formulate how to determine the amount of work. The assessment between the teachers must be conducted, in order to improve the teachers to positively participate in guide students, hold academic lectures and publicize science & technology.

Fourth, colleges and universities should let innovative activities become the students’ own. Colleges should organize experience exchange activities, which invite the students with outstanding performances in the innovative activities and let them provide practicable advice to the other students interested in taking part in science and technology innovative activities.

C. Application Effect


University of ShangHai for Science & Technology attention to the operation of innovative activities .The leaders of the university and Institute support the innovative activities, and even some of the leaders guide the innovative project of the students. Now more and more professional teachers participate in guiding the innovative activities of the students. A example of one innovative team, the number of the teachers guiding the students has increase to 6 from1,who include one professor, two associate professors and three lecturers with two having Doctor degree. And the number of the students attending this innovative activity has increased to more than 50 people. Now this innovative team has more than 10 innovative activities under study.

Most of innovative activities are combined with graduation thesis of undergraduate or postgraduate, and some are combined with college students' innovative projects, and the others are reserve project determined by the teachers themselves.

In the future, we will strengthen the cooperation with other professional teachers and expand the innovation space of IE.


This paper was supported by Leading Academic

Discipline Project of Shanghai Municipal Government

(Project Number: S30504).



[1] Gang Liu, “The Second Economic transformation in China: from a manufacturing economy towards innovation economy”, China Financial and Economic Publishing

House; 2010 (in Chinese)

[2] Pin Zhang. “Discussion about Innovation Training Models for IE Professionals”, Value engineering magazine; 2011

(in Chinese)

[3] Wei Wang, Rui Guo, Yu-jie Zhu,An-hua Ge,Juan Lu,Xuesong Jiang, “Study on Innovation Methods of Practice

Teaching of Industrial Engineering”, Forest Engineering;

2011 (in Chinese)

[4] Fan-sen Kong, “Exploration of Education Models in

Industrial Engineering Major”, Industrial Engineering

Journal; 2009 (in Chinese)

[5] Hu-ji Leng, “Research in Cultivating Creative Education in

“Experimental Class for Creative Ability” and it’s

Practice”; Journal of Anhui University of Technology

(Social Sciences); 2006 (in Chinese)

[6] Guo-zhu Jia, “Research on the Comparison of

Undergraduate Education Programs of Industrial

Engineering both at Home and Abroad”, Industrial

Engineering and Management; 2005 (in Chinese)

[7] Xiao-fang Wang, Heng Lin,Wei Zhang, “The Construction and Thinking of the Practice Teaching Centre in Industrial

Engineering”, Research and Exploration in Laboratory;

2005 (in Chinese)

[8] Li-ying Yang, Xiu-xia Zhao, Xiang-bo Ze, Shou-ren Wang,

“Discussion about Training Modes for IE Professionals”,

Industrial Engineering Journal; 2004 (in Chinese)

[9] Tao Jia, Qin Su, Jian-ming Qiao, “Exploration and Practice in Reform of the Working Practice Course for Industrial

Engineering Major”; Industrial Engineering Journal; 2009

(in Chinese)

[10]Deng-feng Hao, Mei Liu, “Study on the Structure of

Research Group’s Cohesion System”, Science Foundation in China; 2005(in Chinese)