Toyota Material Handling (TMH) and Cornell University’s College of Engineering have joined forces in a project designed to give the school’s engineering students greater access to hands-on learning and real-world applications, representatives from both organizations said this week.
TMH and Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) will build a Forklift Learning Studio that incorporates a fully functional forklift system that students will use to perform experiments and model problems that connect to lessons from their classes. The program is supported by an Innovative Teaching and Learning Award from the University’s Active Learning Initiative.
The groups will begin building the studio this summer, with an official launch slated for the beginning of Cornell’s fall semester in August.
“Our students enjoy theory, but they are motivated by action—-building and testing. They respond best to seeing engineering systems first and having the system motivate the theory they learn,” David Erickson, the S.C. Thomas Sze director of MAE at Cornell, said in a press release Thursday. “The educational opportunity Toyota is enabling us to bring to life will fundamentally change the student experience by allowing them to see how each area of engineering connects to a larger system—in this case, a forklift. We believe this will provide students a uniquely engaging learning environment.”
Forklifts encompass all aspects of a mechanical engineering curriculum—they use internal combustion engines (thermofluids), bear weight (structural mechanics), and their use depends on dynamic stability (dynamics and contro), according to TMH.
The program will help expose students to new products and industries where they could build successful careers as well, according to both groups.
“When you think about it, forklifts are incredibly important to the world we live in. Everything that we buy at the grocery store, every package that ends up at our front door was touched by material handling equipment at some point in the process,” according to Brian Kirby, Meinig Family Professor of Engineering at MAE. “If we can’t move goods and materials, it has a domino effect on all kinds of things in industry, the economy, and ultimately our society. The opportunity to expose our students to such an important industry while also revolutionizing the way they learn is a win-win on every level.”
Brett Wood, president and CEO of Toyota Material Handling North America, and a Cornell graduate, added: “We are excited about the future of this partnership and the impact it will have on the next generation of engineers.”
The Forklift Learning Studio is planned to be the first of multiple studios designed to enhance the school’s engineering program, school officials also said.