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A Snapshot Of Success – How Student Initiated Automotive Design Became Integrated Into The Me And Met Curricula

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Capstone Design I

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.104.1 - 13.104.9

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Paper Authors


Robb Larson Montana State University

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Robb Larson is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. He presently teaches Capstone Design, Engineering Instrumentation, and various computer applications courses. Research areas include snow and avalanche research, alternative energy, and transportation systems. He is the faculty advisor of MSU's student SAE Chapter, the MSU Hockey Club, and the MSU Flyfishing Club.

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

A Snapshot of Success – How Student-Initiated Automotive Design Became Integrated into the ME and MET Curricula


A fascinating relationship has evolved within our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. Three years ago, students initiated the formation of a campus motor-sports club and formed an SAE chapter to pursue participation in the Formula SAE race series. Over the brief period since club inception, the activities of this group have transitioned into core elements of upper-division ME and MET coursework. The club has retained a significant portion of required fund-raising, as well as the responsibility for dictating vehicle specifications. The core of the student club-to-coursework relationship occurs in the interdisciplinary (ME and MET) Capstone Design course. Club-sponsored automotive design and build projects are treated essentially as any other industry-sponsored project, with the twist that they are funded primarily by students who are primarily enrolled in either the ME or MET curriculum. Many of the students fill dual roles: That is, they help define the projects in their role as club members and are then enlisted by course instructors to design/build/test the components as members of the design teams working, resulting in a course grade. This scenario has resulted in a level of student involvement in – and enthusiasm for – the engineering education process that has rarely been seen before at this university. Students are absolutely engaged in a broad spectrum of their education: They define the project, specify technical elements, raise money for materials & purchased components, design, fabricate and test. Then as club members they race the vehicles produced for recreation and enjoyment. Initially the interactions between club and ME/MET courses occurred through the inter-disciplinary capstone design course, but this activity has grown to involve courses in advanced instrumentation, composite materials, tooling, advanced CAD, and other coursework. This paper describes the present state of our Formula SAE race car project, the interactions between the student SAE club and the ME/MET courses participating in the relationship, and the path taken to arrive here. Positive and negative aspects of the relationship between the student club and required coursework are examined, and some guidelines and recommendations for the future are shared.

Montana State University Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

The Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (M&IE) Department at Montana State University (MSU) is among the largest departments on the 12,000+ student campus. The 600+ student M&IE Department houses three ABET-accredited four-year undergraduate degree programs: Mechanical Engineering (ME), Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET), and Industrial Engineering (IE.) Each independent program has dedicated faculty with shared administration and office staff. Course sequencing is organized per individual program goals and accreditation requirements, with some cross-disciplinary offerings available as elective or required courses.

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