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A Course In Life Cycle Engineering

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.10.1 - 2.10.12



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John K. Gershenson

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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 Course in Life-cycle Engineering

John K. Gershenson, Assistant Professor Department of Mechanical Engineering The University of Alabama

ABSTRACT This paper describes the development and implementation of a class in the mechanical aspects of life-cycle engineering. This course teaches students to use cutting edge design methodologies and analysis tools and apply them to the redesign of industrial products. The life-cycle engineering course benefits from recent advances in design education across the country and at The University of Alabama (UA). The course fills a gap in the set of analysis tools that students are given in their formal education.

1. BACKGROUND This class in life-cycle engineering (LCE) is an outgrowth of the recent expansions and improvements in design education. One of these expansions, the use of industrial projects, is a cornerstone of the class. The course is naturally based upon the major principles of life-cycle engineering.

1.1 Design Education For quite some time, there has been a push to improve the content and applicability of engineering design education. Spurred by changes in ABET certification criteria and an explosion in design theory and methodology research, some universities revamped capstone engineering design classes. Many mechanical engineering departments developed courses that require students to take products from concept to physical reality. These programs have been extremely successful. At The University of Alabama, we developed a two semester capstone experience which includes two separate but related classes. In the first class, students learn about the design process and basic design tools. Students practice incorporating traditional engineering analysis into the creative process. In this class, the students go through a team-based, concept to physical reality product development process in a competitive environment. Our students tackle the development of novel, client-requested assistive technologies and have even implemented the finished products for clients. Projects are suggested by local “clients” who, receive the products at the end of class for their personal use. Past projects have included rain shields for wheelchairs, devices to load wheelchairs into the back seat of a two door car, and wheelchair attachments to allow clients to stand up. This class teaches the students to use a structured design process, gives them confidence in their ability to finish the product development, and allows them to interact with clients. In the second capstone class, students spend the entire semester completing an industrially sponsored design project. Each student group is given a different paying client who has clear objectives for the students to meet by the end of the semester. This class increases the students’ self-confidence and gives them a realistic trial run in product development and engineering analysis before they graduate.

Gershenson, J. K. (1997, June), A Course In Life Cycle Engineering Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6475

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