A group of twenty Engineering Technology Management, Industrial Engineering, and Master in Engineering Management students took a one-hour tour of Volkswagen Chattanooga on November 3, 2014, as part of the Facilities Management class taught by Dr. Aldo McLean. “The plant was designed with upmost consideration to the flow of materials, products, and people,” Dr. McLean said, making it “a great fit for the Facilities Management course.”
The opportunity to tour a state-of-the-art manufacturing and assembly facility, learning the history of the plant and details of the manufacturing and assembly process, allowed students to experience and interpret fresh information from the industry—facilities planning, working conditions, etc.—which helped to maximize their education. “I believe all students in engineering should visit the assembly plant, experience, learn, and apply what they’ve learned to their careers in engineering and management,” said McLean.
Volkswagen Chattanooga, the 1,400-acre facility that opened in May 2011, is the first and only LEED Platinum certified auto plant worldwide. Sustainability efforts include 33,000 solar panels, water conservation in excess of 950,000 gallons per month, significant energy savings and reduced light pollution with efficient light bulbs, and on-site protection of wildlife and vegetation. According to their website, Volkswagen Group plans to be the most environmentally sustainable automaker by 2018.
Dr. McLean hopes to continue scheduling tours to Volkswagen Chattanooga every fall semester, as allowed by the facility, and is encouraging high school and middle school teachers to do the same. “Volkswagen was great to allow us to tour the plant and learn from them,” he said. Moving forward, Dr. McLean will also be considering other facilities that might be toured as well and could help enhance the information students are learning in class.