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A Just In Time Approach To Teaching Senior Design

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Capstone Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.57.1 - 8.57.10



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Grimm

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

Session 2425

A Just-In-Time Approach to Teaching Senior Design

By: Thomas R. Grimm Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Michigan Technological University


The subject of this paper is the approach used to teach the senior design project course in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Michigan Technological University. The primary objective in the development of the required two semester senior design sequence was to insure a positive experience in mechanical engineering design while eliminating the procrastination that can be prevalent in long term projects. The approach taken is the “just-in-time” introduction of lecture topics pertinent to the development of the students’ engineering design projects. Each of the major topics covered in class also involves an assignment and mini-report due within a short period of time after the related lectures. For example, the first assignment includes providing the course instructor and the project advisors with information concerning how each team is organized along with project specifications and goals. The second assignment, which follows lectures concerning patents and sources of information, requires a project “initial” background information and patent search report. Complete lists of the assignments and associated lecture topics are included in the paper.

One consequence of having a sequence of mini-reports completed during the semester, besides forcing the students to systematically make progress, is that the job of writing a final report is a much easier task. The student teams are able to update and edit their mini-reports into a comprehensive and complete final report without having to spend inordinate amounts of time on the task. Students have responded very favorably to the “just in time” organization of the senior design course. The system used in the course resulted in the minimization of procrastination problems and made the completion of good quality professional design reports a much less daunting task. A major result of the course organization is also the fact that the material presented in class is immediately relevant to the project work of the students.

The paper includes details of how the first semester senior design project course was conducted, as well as examples of the types of design projects included in the course. Additional information is provided concerning the second semester course, which involves topics such as an introduction to design optimization, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis, and the design and implementation of engineering experiments as related to the testing of design prototypes. The final results of the two-semester senior design sequence includes the development of working prototypes, the completion of professional quality written and oral reports, and the production of an informative and attractive poster by each team.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Grimm, T. (2003, June), A Just In Time Approach To Teaching Senior Design Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12272

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