University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering
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Coordinate Measurement Machine

Coordinate measurement machine



Ever increasing international and domestic competition has sparked renewed interest in quality improvement of products and services. This, in conjunction with the greater complexity of modern production and service systems, has created a demand for engineers who can master the technical and managerial tools and concepts needed for the economic implementation of quality systems. To meet this demand, the industrial engineering department developed a new graduate program specialization in quality engineering in September 1991. Today it has more than 25 graduate students involved in classes and research leading to MSIE and PhD degrees in industrial engineering.



Faculty, Quality Engineering specialization


Pascale Carayon, Shiyu Zhou, David R. Zimmerman, Kaibo Liu, and Harold J. Steudel



Program requirements


Advising information [PDF]



Quality engineering's heritage and diversity 


This program is based on more than 25 years of quality research and teaching at UW-Madison in such diverse areas as applied engineering statistics in production, design for quality of life in workplace systems, and quality for health care delivery. This rich heritage is evident today in the broadness of faculty interests and research activities comprising the program. Current research activities encompass such areas as:


  • Design of experiments
  • Applied statistical methods
  • Quality in product design and development
  • Quality assurance systems design & ISO 9000
  • Product and system reliability
  • Quality in health care systems improvement and cost reduction
  • Quality design of work systems and jobs
  • Human environmental design
  • Quality improvement for manufacturing systems design and control



MSIE, Quality Engineering specialization


The industrial engineering MS degree with concentration in quality engineering is designed to provide necessary background for professional careers in industry or government. Emphasis will be placed on the foundations of quality improvement, organizational dynamics/change strategies, and business and statistical methods. There is a flexible elective list of courses to enable students to specialize with these skills in manufacturing systems, sociotechnical engineering, health systems, and decision sciences. To complete the MS program, a GPA of 3.20 or above in graduate-level courses and 30 degree credits are required with 15 degree credits in the IE department.


For details of the quality engineering curriculum for the MSIE degree, contact the Department of Industrial Engineering.



PhD, Quality Engineering specialization


The industrial engineering PhD degree with concentration in quality engineering seeks to qualify students for leadership positions in research, consulting, government and industry as well as for positions on university faculties in industrial engineering, business and related fields.


There is no minimum credit requirement for the PhD degree and the program is flexible, determined by the students and their advisor/major professor. Requirements include independent study, satisfactory performance in the quality exam in two areas, the preliminary exam, and a successful defense of a PhD thesis. Admission and GPA requirements are the same as those specified by the IE department.


The curriculum for the quality engineering specialization is designed to provide students with a balance and breadth of understanding of industrial engineering disciplines that contribute to designing and delivering high-quality products or services safely and efficiently. To accomplish this, courses can be selected from each of four groups:


1)foundation courses

2)organizational dynamics/change strategies and business

3)statistical methods

4)an elective grouping consisting of engineering systems, sociotechnical engineering, and measurement/evaluation.


In the case of the latter grouping and specialization, students may want to sample broadly from these disciplines or specialize in the application of quality principles in one of them. Flexibility is built into the curriculum to accommodate a wide range of interests and application opportunities.



Employment prospects


With quality and productivity improvement now recognized as fundamental to achieving long-term success, today's business or organization requires people with state-of-the-art knowledge and experience with quality principles and methods. The quality engineering specialization prepares students to help a wide variety of businesses and organizations in developing and implementing quality systems to improve their productivity and competitiveness, and the quality of life.


Managers of today's organizations and enterprises are faced with an enormous number of competitive pressures as well as a revolution in philosophy and methodologies for improving their systems, whether they be in manufacturing, health care, business agencies or government. In all cases, the demand is for better products and/or services at lower costs.


Total Quality Control, Design for Assembly, Design for Manufacturability, Quality Function Deployment, Kaizen, Statistical Process Control, Taguchi Methods, and a host of additional tools and methodologies have all proven to provide substantial improvements in quality, reduction in cost, increased productivity, or improved responsiveness when the concepts are applied correctly in appropriate settings. It is the job of the quality engineer to understand and apply these new methodologies to guide the improvement of the organization. This job may be done working as a quality engineer or manager in an industrial environment, in a health care organization, in a consulting company, in the education field, in government or in other areas of the service sector. The job opportunities are varied and plentiful.


The need for quality engineering specialists to design and operate more productive systems that improve both competitiveness and the quality of work and life is rapidly increasing as worldwide economic and population growth accelerates. In the United States, there is a demand for continuous improvement of product designs and manufacturing systems to help our industries meet intense competition from abroad. Likewise, needs for improvements in health care delivery and workplace design call for quality professionals who can meet these new demands. This challenge will require a large number of quality systems engineers in industry, business and academia, and this need will exist well into the next century.



Laboratory facilities and research centers


The interdisciplinary curriculum in the quality engineering specialization draws on the sophisticated computer equipment and laboratory resources of the many outstanding departments in the College of Engineering and throughout UW-Madison. For example, the School of Business adds strength in the areas of total quality management and organization design and behavior. The Department of Statistics provides excellent resources for training in the fundamental methodologies necessary to solve problems through data collection and analysis. In the College of Engineering, cutting-edge technologies and equipment, like the advanced coordinate measuring machine and software, allow for hands-on research and experience. Likewise, high technology classrooms and industry-based projects provide opportunities for learned by doing and working with people in teams. Several other facilities provide the opportunity for advanced study, including Computer-Aided Engineering.


It is widely recognized that quality is fundamental to achieving long-term success. A renewed focus on customers and processes sets the stage for continuous improvement for industry, government, educational institutions, healthcare, and businesses. All have benefited from higher quality and productivity as well as reduced time and cost to develop, produce, deliver products and services, and improved safety. Data-based total quality methods are the catalyst to help people achieve these benefits.


Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement


It is widely recognized that quality is fundamental to achieving long-term success. A renewed focus on customers and processes sets the stage for continuous improvement for industry, government, educational institutions, healthcare, and businesses. All have benefited from higher quality and productivity as well as reduced time and cost to develop, produce, deliver products and services, and improved safety. Data-based total quality methods are the catalyst to help people achieve these benefits.


To rise to the challenge of the international quality revolution, the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement (CQPI) was founded in October of 1985 by Professor George E.P. Box and the late Professor William G. Hunter. Since its inception, CQPI has been at the forefront in the development of new techniques for improving the quality of products and processes. Today, the Center is also at the forefront of methods aimed at improving the quality of work processes, quality of working life, and quality of healthcare.


The mission of the Center is to create, integrate, and transfer knowledge to improve the quality and performance of industrial, service, governmental, healthcare, educational, social, and other organizations.


The vision of the Center is to excel in the creation, development, and integration of knowledge through research on theories, concepts, and methodologies of quality and productivity measurement, management and improvement, innovation and organizational change.


Areas of expertise in quality engineering, quality management, quality improvement in healthcare, safety applications and research, and quality of working life, human factors and ergonomics.


Major research support has come from the National Science Foundation, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the UW Graduate School, the State of Wisconsin, and private industry.



Recognition and support


Since the program was established in September 1991, the faculty and research activities associated with it have received support from major sources including the National Science Foundation, Emerson Electric Co., Procter & Gamble, IBM, the state of Wisconsin, UW-Madison Graduate School and many other industrial contributors. In spring 1994, Professors Donald S. Ermer and Harold J. Steudel received named and distinguished professorships in total quality from Procter & Gamble and Emerson Electric Co., respectively. The quality engineering specialization in industrial engineering is well established and growing, and offers students exciting opportunities for a rewarding future.