June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Design in Engineering Education
14.68.1 - 14.68.11
A Multi-University, Interdisciplinary Senior Design Project in Engineering
A senior capstone design project is being conducted jointly by research teams at two universities. The focus of the project is on microwave processing of composite materials, including characterization of materials properties before and after heat treatment and vibrational analysis of the composite system. This year's senior engineering students are participating in the first year of the multi-year project.
To accelerate the project achievements for subsequent student participants, an interdisciplinary transitional summer program is being proposed as a method for technology transfer from this year's seniors to the upcoming seniors via a four-week team interaction.
To succeed in today’s complex and rapidly advancing global marketplace, graduating engineers must be able to work on interdisciplinary teams that may be geographically spread over large distances. In an effort to expose engineering undergraduates to this kind of experience and develop the necessary skills, Virginia Tech and the University of Hartford are developing a joint senior research project involving two distinct disciplines. The project is related to microwave processing of composite materials, including characterization of materials properties before and after heat treatment and vibrational analysis of the composite system. While neither the interdisciplinary1,2 nor the multi-university3 aspects of this project are new concepts, the involvement of an industry partner ensures that this project will last several years. As a result, the universities are also developing a summer program to ensure a smooth transition between groups of seniors.
There are two primary goals for this collaboration, one technical and one pedagogical:
1. To develop a microwave curing process for polymer coatings on instrument woods. 2. To establish a collaborative effort between research programs at Virginia Tech and the University of Hartford.
The technical project was initiated in 2005. Based on the expertise of the faculty members in the use of microwave energy for materials processing and their personal interests in guitar building, the concept of replacing conventional heat treatments with microwave techniques was developed. It wasn’t until 2007 that they acted on their ideas, visiting four manufacturers over the following year, ranging from small production shops (8 instruments per week) to large-scale manufacturers (>100 instruments per day). One of the manufacturers, Taylor Guitars located in El Cajon, CA, expressed an interest in the microwave technology that could improve their wood curing process and agreed to work with Virginia Tech and the University of Hartford by sharing
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