June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
A new course has been developed for undergraduate engineering students that enhances their understanding of the multidisciplinary aspects of systems engineering. Students pursing a general engineering degree with concentrations in mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering are collaborating to develop a prototype for a high-speed, magnetically-levitated transportation pod for the Hyperloop Competition, recently commissioned by Elon Musk of SpaceX Corporation. This project is an excellent opportunity for students to engage in a hands-on, real-world, multidisciplinary design experience that lends itself to the application of systems engineering principles.
Systems engineering principles are presented and discussed in class, and the students are periodically examined over this material. However, most of the students’ time and effort is spent outside of class, applying this information as they develop the prototype in the engineering laboratory. An industrial setting is simulated by breaking the students into subsystem development teams that must work together to not only successfully develop their own subsystems, but ultimately integrate these subsystems into the final complex system that meets all the requirements. Formal documentation and presentations at the end of the course serve as a Critical Design Review. Qualification testing is also conducted to verify both subsystem and integrated system performance. Final qualification testing is conducted at the SpaceX test facility in Hawthorne, California.
In addition to the technical aspects of the project, students also learn about systems engineering management, customer and contractor relations, and system life cycle considerations. They meet regularly with technical advisors and submit weekly progress reports, emphasizing how their subsystem interfaces and interacts with the rest of system. This is necessarily a multidisciplinary effort since the prototype consists of integrated subsystems that are mechanical, electrical and computational in nature. The final project report includes a section where the students are encouraged to reflect on the quality of their experience as it pertains to their understanding of systems engineering. Student surveys are also conducted in an effort to assess the impact of the course and elicit feedback on how the course may be improved.
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