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MSE student joins teachers at the head of his classes

Even before he completed his M.S. in manufacturing systems engineering (MSE) last year at Lehigh, Alan Feiertag had co-taught one class in the program with Prof. Roger Nagel.

In the fall of 2003, three years after he enrolled as a part-time MSE student, Alan became an adjunct professor and taught "Technology and the Factory of the Future."

In the spring of 2004, he taught a second MSE class, "International Supply-Chain Management."

Alan is group manager in the vehicle dynamics department of Mack Trucks Inc.'s Engineering Development and Test Center in Allentown, Pa., which is owned by Volvo. He oversees steering, front suspension and front axle installations of Mack Trucks.

Lehigh's MSE program, Alan says, is ideally suited for managers in industry because it offers a higher level of practical education in both engineering and business.

"In the MSE program, you can truly adapt what you learn to the workplace. You learn leading-edge technology and 21st-century concepts. You absorb the latest information and take it back to work to try it out.

"As an MSE student, I lived what I learned. As I listened to my professors apply new manufacturing techniques and management methods to real-life examples, I could see what made sense in the work place."

Alan holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Penn State University and an M.B.A. in managerial science from Wilkes University. He worked 12 years, including nine as engineering manager, with Delbar Products, a Telford, Pa.-based firm that makes car and truck mirrors. In 2000, he moved to Mack Trucks.

In addition to the courses that he taught, Alan found MSE 431, "Marketing and the Invention to Innovation Process," especially useful. He also benefited from the team projects and plant tours included in many MSE classes.

His professors, particularly Nagel and Keith Gardiner, encouraged his interest in teaching.

He adapted Prof. Nagel's teaching methods to his own classes, in which he customizes the course material to meet students' specific needs.

"Roger allows students to pick project topics that are meaningful to their circumstances. Then he ties everything together. That energizes me. It offers a really good perspective on a wide range of topics."

Alan is planning to continue teaching in the MSE program and to volunteer at recruitment nights and open houses.

"Lehigh has given me tremendous opportunities," he says. "I not only learned the material; I learned it well enough to be an adjunct professor."

Posted on Sunday, August 01, 2004

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