Several long-term trends have been identified by academic and business leaders in the IMST Professional Seminar subject "Manufacturing Innovation and Entrepreneurship"�. Common among all of these is the ever-increasing speed of the market, and the continuing disintegration of businesses, in order to minimize the inertia of a given organization. This combines with product and performance trends that suggest a fundamental research focus on nano-scale manufacturing, both for small products (such as MEMS) and for greater precision of all products. It also drives the need for less capital-intensive methods of manufacturing. The new pace and organizational structure also drive fundamental problems in manufacturing systems that require better modeling and control of highly interconnected factories, enterprises and supply networks. There is clearly a need for better tools for design and operation of the Next Generation Manufacturing Enterprise in a highly interconnected global environment.

It is clear from the above that present day companies are faced with many challenges. The SMA IMST program was thus designed, not only to equip candidates with the necessary fundamental knowledge in these important diverse areas, but also to help them develop a strategic and global perspective of manufacturing. The business and technoprenuership aspects are covered through Pro-seminars given by prominent people from both industry and academia. Knowledge synthesis and teamwork with a practical bent is achieved through the design projects and the company sponsored Theme Projects. The program aims to produce graduates who can be leaders and drivers in manufacturing. Research in the above areas is being pursued. Currently PhD research projects include:

Information Automation: The capability of a business enterprise in rapid product development is one key competitive edge in the prevailing climate of keen global competition. The trend of reducing development cycle time requires the information to be delivered in a timely manner. However, the explosion of data in this information age implies that the vital or critical information may be swamped by the torrents of data that each person in the product development team receives. New ways of working, tools and techniques must be found to deliver such information. Research in this direction is carried out to improve information loops, classify data and deliver the information to appropriate recipients.

Laser Applications: With very short pulse laser (in the order of femto-second), materials can be removed with extremely little heat transfer to the surrounding materials. There is negligible heat affected zone, resulting in high quality and precise finish. This process is suitable for a wide variety of materials, such as silicon, polymer and metallic materials. Through research and simulation studies, the optimal processing capability of this high precision process can be exploited and optimized. In conjunction with this, it is also necessary to develop techniques for metrology at a nanoscale level.

Microfabrication: Both experimental and numerical investigations on UV embossing as a microfabrication technique are being pursued. The inter-dependency of various key parameters for the success of UV embossing are investigated, which include demolding force, residual stress, surface properties, curing reactions, and mold geometry. Optimization procedures will be developed.

Supply Chain Management: Research in global supply chains, multi-plant coordination, and operations management, particularly in the application of mathematical modelling and analysis methods to manufacturing systems and supply chains, is being pursued by students that are jointly supervised by SMA IMST Fellows from the Sloan School of Management, MIT and the Nanyang Business School.

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