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A Student Project Examining Alternative Assessment Methods For Structural Components

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Industry Sponsored Research and Project Initiatives in Industrial Technology & Industrial Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.94.1 - 15.94.7



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Paper Authors


Michael Johnson Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Johnson is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University. Prior to joining the faculty at Texas A&M, he was a senior product development engineer at the 3M Corporate Research Laboratory in St. Paul, Minnesota for three years. He received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University and his S.M. and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Johnson’s research focuses on design tools, specifically, the cost modeling and analysis of product development and manufacturing systems; CAD methodology; and engineering education.

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Akshay Parthasarathy Texas A&M University

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Akshay Parthasarathy, has a Bachelors of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from Anna University, Chennai, India, May 2008. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Engineering in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University.

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

A Student Project Examining Alternative Assessment Methods for Structural Components Abstract

Product development performance (cost and lead time) is of great importance in the current competitive market. Students today will enter a workplace where engineers have a wide array of design tools at their disposal to assess alternative designs and determine their fitness. Selection among alternative assessment methods requires that trade-offs be made among lead time, cost, and the reliability of the results obtained.

Assessing a given component using alternative assessment techniques allows for the analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of both analytical and physical prototyping methods. This process allows students to examine the limitation of analytical prototypes (or simulations) and alternative physical prototyping methods (rapid prototyping techniques) as well as their putative benefits (limited lead time and reduced cost).

This work details a project where students assessed the structural fitness (stress at various locations) of a simple component using simple calculations, finite element analyses (FEA), a fused deposition modeled prototype, and an aluminum prototype. The total time required to obtain information regarding structural fitness was tabulated for each method. The results for the other three methods were compared to those of the aluminum prototype (assumed to have the highest fidelity).


Development is the process of creating technically acceptable solutions to meet customer needs. Today’s students will enter a technologically driven world where the importance of development to the success (or even survival) of a firm is unquestioned. However, it is not enough that the product development process be effective, it must also be quick. Development lead time can affect the commercial and financial success of a product 1 2 3. Some companies even use time to market as a key product development metric 4. There is a potential conflict between trying to complete a development project quickly and producing a superior (or even acceptable) product. This conflict arises from the desire of technical professionals to engineer “perfect” products and the business reality of needing to deliver those products in an efficient and cost effective manner.

At most stages of the development process there are several alternative methods to determine the acceptability of a given design solution. These range from simple analytical prototypes (stress calculations or the use of hand books) to comprehensive physical prototypes (creation and testing of entire products) 5. New technologies in computer-aided design, manufacturing, and engineering allows for several aspects of a product to be analyzed virtually. The selection of assessment methods throughout the development process can have a significant effect on cost, lead times, and product and project success.

Conveying to students the importance of assessment method selection and the role that it can have on project and product success is of growing importance in engineering and engineering technology curricula. To evaluate a potential project that would allow students to examine

Johnson, M., & Parthasarathy, A. (2010, June), A Student Project Examining Alternative Assessment Methods For Structural Components Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16262

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