Int. Journal of Eng. Education, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 42-52, 2009

Using Teardown Analysis as a Vehicle to Teach Electronic Systems
Manufacturing Cost Modeling

Peter Sandborn, Jessica Myers, Thomas Barron, and Micheal Mccarthy
Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE)
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742


This paper describes the use of product tear downs in an electronic systems cost modeling course at the University of Maryland. As part of a semester-long project, each student in the course chooses a product and determines the manufacturing cost of the product using a combination of top-down cost analysis (to determine what the product must cost) and a detailed bottoms-up model (that students calibrate using the top-down analysis). Products considered by students range from complex systems such as mobile phones to relatively simple systems such as memory sticks and McDonald's Happy Meal® toys. Using product tear downs and reverse engineering ideas has proven to be an effective vehicle for educating students on practical manufacturing cost modeling of systems and complements typical engineering economics analysis.

Key words: tear downs, reverse engineering, product dissection, cost modeling, top-down, bottoms-up, electronics

Complete article available to CALCE consortium members

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