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Featured Collection

D-Lib Magazine
February 2004

Volume 10 Number 2

ISSN 1082-9873

"How Everyday Things Are Made"

Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing at Stanford

It has been several months since I contacted Mark Martin, CEO of Design4X (the company that created the web site "How Everyday Things Are Made"), about featuring the site in D-Lib Magazine. Thus, it is a bit of serendipity that the feature was scheduled to appear in February, the month when—thanks to Valentine's Day—chocolates are being sold by the truckload, giving me an excuse—albeit with tongue in cheek— to select for D-Lib's front page an image of rows of chocolates on their way to "making someone's day."

Of course, "How Everyday Things Are Made" is not about candy, it's about manufacturing, and the web site provides for many fascinating hours to be spent learning just exactly how products and objects we use daily are produced. The three futuristic-looking images on this page, for example, were taken from the web site's video about manufacturing semiconductors.

Semiconductor manufacturing, images from "Fab 25" Clean Room. Copyright © Advanced Micro Devices. Courtesy of Stanford University. Used with permission.

"How Everyday Things Are Made" is an online course hosted by the Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing (AIM) at Stanford University. AIM is "a cooperative venture among Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, School of Engineering, and member industrial firms including: Advanced Micro Devices; Cisco; Ford Motor Company; Genentech, General Motors Corporation, Honda R&D Americas; Intel Corporation; Sun Microsystems; and Toyota Motor Corporation.

The site provides videos on the manufacture of a wide range of products from airplanes to jelly beans, bottles to blue jeans, crayons to golf clubs, and more. It also provides information about the current state of manufacturing, careers in manufacturing, and the challenges facing the field. There is also a large section on manufacturing processes, such as casting metal, molding plastics, machining, assembly, and others. In addition, as in any good course, throughout the site students find interactive modules to encourage them to "think about it", "test your knowledge" and "apply it."

This is the first time D-Lib has featured a site that relies almost exclusively on users' ability to view videos online. Therefore, it is only fair to warn the user, as indeed the home page of "How Everyday Things Are Made" does, that high speed connections are necessary to optimally view the course. Macromedia FlashPlayer plugin is required and can be downloaded from the "How Everyday Things Are Made" web site. With that single caveat, I encourage you to explore the online course "How Everyday Things Are Made". The web site is located at <>.

Bonnie Wilson
D-Lib Magazine

Copyright© 2004 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/february2004-featured.collection