“Technical skills are important, but without employability skills,
technical skills are merely commodities. Employability skills
turn intellectual commodities into intellectual capital.”
– Peter Saflund

Information Technology Workforce Skills Study,
Broadening Advanced Technological Education Connections

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Manufacturing Modules

Project 5: Puzzle It Out

Project Overview


The purpose of this project is to incorporate employability skills (teamwork, problem solving, verbal and written communication, dependability/work ethic, and planning and organizing) into activities relating to the development and execution of production processes and procedures to manufacture and assemble 6-piece Burr puzzles.

This project is divided into five main activities:

  • Activity 1: Getting it Right. The opening phase addresses a) the scenario, deliverables, and expectations of the project; b) the phases and execution of each process; c) blueprints and specifications for the puzzle; and d) the machines, tools and gages that will be used.
  • Activity 2: Running Our Process. This phase includes a) a discussion of LEAN Manufacturing; b) the allocation/scheduling of all the required tools; c) assignment of teams, and d) development and documenting of the required processes.
  • Activity 3: Test Runs. This phase includes a) trial & error test runs; and b) validation of developed processes.
  • Activity 4: Launch of Machining and Assembly. This phase includes a) full production; b) managing nonconforming material and use of "5 Why" problem solving; and c) switch (swap) of teams to a new process.
  • Activity 5: Lessons Learned. This phase includes a) discussion of “Lessons Learned,” including a "5 Why" review; and b) wrap-up presentations by each team.

Courses for Implementation:

  • Manual and/or CNC Milling
  • Blueprint Reading
  • Metrology
  • Introduction to Manufacturing Engineering
  • Optional:
    • CAD, CAM software
    • 3D Printer

Key Terms/Major Topics:

  • LEAN Manufacturing
  • Production Processes & Procedures
  • Process Development and Execution
  • Risk Mitigation


  • Manual Milling Machines equipped with DRO
  • CNC Milling Machines
  • Horizontal Bandsaw
  • Miscellaneous Cutting Tools
  • Tape Measure
  • Flat File
  • Production Stops
  • 0-6" Calipers
  • 0-1" and 1-2" Vernier Micrometers
  • 0-1" Depth Micrometer


  • 0-1" Drop Indicator Plunge Indicator
  • Gage Blocks (with end attachments, if possible)
  • Snap Gages


  • Aluminum
    • 1" x 1" or 7/8" x 7/8" (12 ft lengths)
    • 1" x 3" (saw into 1" pieces)