Industry Short Course

Introduction to PV Manufacturing Decision Making:  Product Cost Analysis and Hypothesis Testing

QESST Industry Workshop word cloud
QESST Industry Workshop

Who should attend?

Engineers, technicians and managers working in and around PV manufacturing environments who are looking to increase their cost analysis and statistical decision making skills.


February 19-20, 2013


SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center

1475 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 200

Scottsdale, Arizona 85257-3538

About the course

This short course is for PV engineers and managers who work in, or interface directly, with the manufacturing environment. It introduces two critically important tools to support the engineering decision making process – product cost accounting and statistical comparison of means. These two tools are essential to a wide range of manufacturing-related activities, from evaluating second-source materials and conducting process improvement activities, to planning and prioritizing cost improvement activities, conducting cost benchmarking analyses and more.

The short course utilizes a balance of traditional classroom learning and hands-on workshop learning using the Virtual Cell Factory/Virtual Manufacturing Execution System software suite – a simulation of a fully functional PV cell factory and MES interface. The classroom portion will cover the fundamentals and theory, and attendees will gain hands-on experience using the simulated factory environment to complete a variety of analyses activities.

Attendees who successfully complete the course will gain an appreciation of the critical importance of product cost accounting and statistical comparison of means to the decision-making process in a manufacturing environment, as well as an introductory head start toward a full mastery of the tools.


Day 1 – Introduction to Product Cost Accounting

8:00-8:30              Registration

8:30-9:00              Overview of Short Course

9:00-10:30           Topic 1 – Accounting for Cost – Cost Accounting, T-accounts, Transactions, Cost Objects, Cost Behaviors, Estimating Cost Contributions

10:30-12:00         Workshop 1 – Evaluating second-source opportunities for cost reduction in the Virtual Cell Factory

12:00-1:00           Lunch

1:00-2:30              Topic 2 – Cost Metrics – Cost-per-watt/Cost-per-unit, Step Cost of Goods Manufactured, Cost of Goods Manufactured, Net Present Value/Return on Investment

2:30-4:00              Workshop 2 – Evaluating step improvement opportunities for cost reduction in the Virtual Cell Factory

4:00-4:30              Review and Q&A

Day 2 – Introduction to Statistical Comparison of Means

7:30-9:00              Topic 3 – Fundamentals of Statistical Comparison of Means – Null and Alternate Hypotheses, Significance and the Chance of Error, Computing the Statistic and Critical Regions (Natural and Normalized Units), Drawing Conclusions

9:00-10:30           Workshop 3 – Evaluating an alternate raw material for improved cell performance in the Virtual Cell Factory

10:30-12:00         Topic 4 – Workhorse Statistical Comparison of Means Tests – Z- and T-tests, One and Two Samples, Equal and Different Standard Deviation, Test Methodology, Experimental Methods of Controlling Variance

12:00-1:00           Lunch

1:00-2:30              Workshop 4 – Designing and analysis of a T-test for a step improvement opportunity in the Virtual Cell Factory

2:30-3:00              Course Wrap-up

About the instructor

Dr. Jeff Cotter has been working in solar photovoltaics for 20+ years, including research and development, tertiary education and high-volume manufacturing. For the past 5 years, he was Director of the technology deployment team at Sunpower Manufacturing Limited, in the Philippines, where he and his team introduced Sunpower’s Gen II, 22.4% efficient silicon solar cell from R&D into manufacturing. The Gen II reached almost 1.5 GW of annual production in 2011. Before joining Sunpower, he was an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales, where he was a co-founder of the School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering – the world’s first undergraduate degree programs in Photovotaics and Renewable Energy. He is the author of the On-line  Virtual World Solar Challenge Game, the On-line Virtual Survivor Sustainability Game, the RaySim technical ray-tracing program, the Virtual Solar Cell Factory Server Application and the Virtual Manufacturing Engineering System Client Application. He is also the author of the Virtual MES Workbook series of books on PV manufacturing science, technology and engineering.


$750 per person for non-QESST Industrial Members

Free to QESST Industrial Members (limit 2)


Please register through RegOnline for the Introduction to PV Manufacturing Decision Making Industry Short Course