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A Unique Leak Detection Precursor Capstone Design Project For A Hands On Senior Level Design Experience

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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

Design Through the Curriculum

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.136.1 - 8.136.25



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Paper Authors

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Chris Kobus

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

Session 2366

A Unique Leak Detection Precursor Capstone Design Project for a Hands-On Senior-Level Design Experience

Christopher J. Kobus Department of Mechanical Engineering Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309


This paper describes a design project for the senior level Fluid and Thermal System Design course, which is a precursor to the Capstone Design Project at Oakland University. The Fluid and Thermal System Design course is geared to taking students through the entire taxonomy of the design process; from knowledge, comprehension and application, to analysis, synthesis and finally evaluation. The leaktest design is the first design project of the course, and involves all of the aforementioned steps of the design process. The project is carried out during the first seven weeks of the semester, working in teams made up of three to four students, with one being the team leader. Results of the students’ design experiences will be presented in this paper.

I. Introduction

The objective of the senior level Fluid and Thermal System Design course in the Mechanical Engineering program at Oakland University is to experientially nurture students in various aspects of the design process. The end result is the preparation of students to undertake the capstone design course. One of the major projects in this course is the design, implementation and experimental testing of a leak detection scheme for vacuum actuated control systems such as those found in the automotive industry.

Student teams, consisting of three to four students each, are design-engineering teams working for fictitious competing companies that specialize in custom testing solutions, and their implementation. A fictitious HVAC company is soliciting bids for the design of a testing scheme to save on labor time yet be accurate in validating their vacuum actuated control systems. Vacuum operated control systems are very common in the automotive industry. They are used in power brakes, automatic transmissions, disappearing headlights, and in climate control systems. Because they are mass-produced, the presence of leaks in these vacuum systems is inevitable. Therefore, there is a question as to how large a leak is tolerable. Once this is established, a manufacturing or quality control specification can be determined and the system checked on the assembly line. If it does not meet these specifications, then it must be pulled off the line and repaired.

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

Kobus, C. (2003, June), A Unique Leak Detection Precursor Capstone Design Project For A Hands On Senior Level Design Experience Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12615

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