When you think of the typical student, you probably aren’t thinking of someone like Mike Freeman, a 56 year old father of three young adults; and an Engineer at Ford Motor Company. Mike recently completed the Additive Manufacturing Certification program offered through the Purdue Online College of Engineering; a curriculum written and facilitated by the experts at The Barnes Group Advisors.
Mike’s education background includes Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Engineering Management. Mike has worked at Ford Motor Company for the past 30 years in body structures engineering, spanning 19 different vehicle programs, from the ’89 Thunderbird to the new Explorer/Aviator platform. Prior to the course, he had some experience with additive manufacturing for prototype and mockup parts utilizing Vat-Photopolymerization technologies.
Mike recently shared his online learning experience with the team at America Makes: “[it] was absolutely wonderful. I really was intimidated at first, not having been in school since… 20-22 years I think was the last time I took a class. The format and mode of learning is quite different. I think it’s good… because it is more flexible. Schedule and traffic jams don’t really come into play. I thought it was a little bit different for me with respect to interfacing with the professors [via email].” Speaking on the evaluation aspects of the course, he shared; “The testing, evaluation, I was wrongly intimidated when signing up for the course. It shouldn’t be intimidating [for others considering the course.] ” As he dove into the coursework, Mike found that his lifelong passion for learning was reignited and, with his kids all out of the house, was a much better and exciting use of his time than binging on the latest Netflix special. In particular, Mike noted the ability to work on the coursework or watch the lectures on his time, from anywhere, as one of the best aspects of the program. He particularly took advantage of rainy days. Instead of a round of golf, he’d settle in with a bowl of chips and salsa, and a healthy dose of coursework!
Asked how this course will impact his career, Mike said that the main impact will be the availability of another exciting tool to use in his work with design. Mike’s passion in engineering has been design, and he is excited to bring his new skillset to his team, even as a veteran of Ford. He is excited to explore how additive manufacturing can be used to impact the customer attributes of his designs, such as head clearances, package space, fitment, and noise reduction.
For obvious IP reasons with Ford, Mike was not able to go into detail on how he is going to incorporate his learning into his job, saying that he is leveraging what he learned into his future plans, both from the technology aspect, to the organizational and management principles taught in the course.
A big part of our mission at America Makes is making sure that folks like Mike are connected to great experiences like this one with great partners and programs such as The Barnes Group Advisors and Purdue University.
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