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A Complementary Sequence In Thermal/Fluids And Mechanical Systems For Senior Capstone

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.17.1 - 6.17.11



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Paper Authors

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William Keat

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Ann Anderson

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Richard Wilk

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3266

A Complementary Sequence in Thermal/Fluids and Mechanical Systems for Senior Capstone Design

Ann M. Anderson, William D. Keat, and Richard D. Wilk Mechanical Engineering Department Union College Schenectady, NY


The mechanical engineering program at Union College has developed two senior level design courses, Design of Thermal/Fluid Systems (DTFS) and Design of Mechanical Systems (DMS) aimed at diversifying the senior capstone design experience. These required courses are project- based design courses which complement each other so as to ensure coverage of design in both thermal/fluid systems and mechanical systems, and a wide range of teaming experiences. The thermal/fluids course utilizes multiple projects with relatively small teams, in which each student takes a turn as team leader. The mechanical design course typically has one major term project with the entire class working as a single large team on an industrial project solicited from a local company. There is one team leader with the rest of the team organized into functional groups. This paper describes each of these courses and goes into the details of how they serve to complement each other.

Curricular Background

The ME program at Union College has had in its curriculum for many years a two trimester course sequence titled Senior Project. This involves students working independently on a project and advised by ME faculty. The flexibility in the scope of this course sequence was well suited to the interests and goals of the different students. Some students were interested in design and build-type projects while others, mainly those considering going on to graduate school, preferred more research-oriented projects.

In the mid 1990’s, new standards for the accreditation of engineering programs were developed. Criterion 4 of ABET Engineering Criteria 2000 calls for students to be prepared for engineering practice through the curriculum culminating in a major design experience based on the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier course work. The design experience should incorporate engineering standards and realistic constraints that include most of the following considerations: economic; environmental; sustainability; manufacturability; ethical; health and safety; social; and political. Further, Criterion 8 of the ASME Program Criteria calls for graduates of ME programs to have the ability to work professionally in both thermal and mechanical systems areas including the design and realization of such systems.

It became clear that changes in the ME curriculum would be necessary to ensure that all students met these criteria. Assessment results from alumni surveys indicated that the senior project, in its current form, was highly regarded by alumni. As a result, the faculty decided not to modify the senior project but rather to supplement it with required capstone design courses in thermal/fluid systems and mechanical systems. These courses preserve the many good points of the Senior “Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Keat, W., & Anderson, A., & Wilk, R. (2001, June), A Complementary Sequence In Thermal/Fluids And Mechanical Systems For Senior Capstone Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9016

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