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A Four Year Path To Synthesis: The Junior Interdisciplinary And Vertically Integrated Design Experience

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.13.1 - 1.13.14



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Paper Authors

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Steve Howell

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Ken Collier

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Debra Larson

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Jerry Hatfield

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

Session 1625

A Four-Year Path to Synthesis: The Junior Interdisciplinary and Vertically Integrated Design Experience Debra Larson, Steve Howell, Ken Collier, Jerry Hatfield Northern Arizona University

ABSTRACT Engineering industries are calling for graduates that have a breadth of skills including design and analysis skills, teaming skills and “soft skills” (i.e., project management, concept value analysis, communication, cross-disciplinary understanding, etc.). Furthermore, concepts that are traditionally taught in isolated packets are difficult to synthesize and apply to the more holistic problems engineers typically face. Northern Arizona University’s College of Engineering and Technology is implementing an innovative, four-year, sequence of classes called the Path to Synthesis. The sophomore and junior courses in the Path to Synthesis program are team-taught industry simulations which use collaborative product design to not only develop design skills, teamwork skills, and soft engineering skills, but to also encourage the use of state of the art design methods and professional-quality software tools. These two classes are each divided into divisions consisting of 8 to 9 students from the engineering disciplines of Civil/Environmental, Electrical, Mechanical and Computer Science. Each division is managed by a faculty member who role plays as a division manager. This paper describes the piloted junior level Path to Synthesis course, called EGR 386 Engineering Design III - The Methods, which is vertically integrated with the sophomore course, EGR 286 Engineering Design II - The Process. The junior course emphasizes analytical engineering skills along with sophisticated project management techniques including subcontract management. Written and oral communication skills and topics on professionalism and ethics are also addressed. Greater emphasis is placed on rigorous planning and scheduling, cost estimation and economics, and coordination of efforts between: the Design II and III teams, the Design III students and the customer, and the Design III students and students from the Computer Visualization and Imaging (CVI) program at Cogswell College in Sunnyvale, CA. The Fall ‘95 project was the design of a materials recycling facility (MRF) for co- mingled curbside household recyclable garbage. The students designed and constructed feasibility models of fully automated and computer controlled mechanisms that sort items such as aluminum, steel, various grades of paper, cardboard, plastics types, and contaminants. A local site was selected and a task force of the sophomore and junior Civil and Environmental engineering students worked concurrently on site development and the MRF design. The junior Civil and Environmental students subcontracted with students from Cogswell College to produce computer animated renderings of the site before and after site construction.

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Howell, S., & Collier, K., & Larson, D., & Hatfield, J. (1996, June), A Four Year Path To Synthesis: The Junior Interdisciplinary And Vertically Integrated Design Experience Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6063

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