June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Design in Engineering Education
15.144.1 - 15.144.22
An Automated Bottle Filling and Capping Project for Freshman Engineering Students
Abstract: All freshman engineering students at York College participate in a spring semester design challenge as part of a year-long, two-course introduction to engineering. This paper describes the course organization, the project goals, and project itself and how it supports the broader engineering curriculum goals of engaging freshman engineering students in a design project, exposing them in an interesting way to the breath of engineering, and motivating them in their engineering studies.
The students work in small teams and have roughly 12 weeks to design an automated electro- mechanical system that first transports three empty Snapple bottles, three tennis balls, and 36 oz. of water to a 2⁄x3⁄ operational zone. The machine must fill each bottle with 12 oz. of water, cap each bottle by covering the top with a tennis ball, and then deliver the capped and filled bottles to an area outside of the operational zone.
The bottle-filling project serves as the second of two interdisciplinary engineering design experiences during the freshman year. It introduces aspects of computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering, including the following five primary knowledge areas: (i) machining and fabrication; (ii) electronic circuit prototyping and programming; (iii) sensor and actuator applications; (iv) mechanical design; (v) project planning; and (vi) presentation skills.
A project demonstration at the end of the semester determines the relative effectiveness of each machine based upon a number of quantitative factors, including the total time required to complete the overall process, the volume of water in each bottle, the number of bottles successfully capped, the amount of water spilled, and approximate manufacturing cost. Some qualitative factors considered are simplicity, creativity, and aesthetics. Student interest in this substantial hands-on experience, as measured by surveys and exhibited by attendance, enthusiasm, productivity, and success, appears to be high through the three years it has been assigned.
Traditionally, engineering curricula at the college or university level provide solid backgrounds of theory and analysis before progressing to any significant practical and creative activities. The engineering faculty at York College believes that for many students this is not the best approach. First-year engineering students are often enthusiastic about engineering, science, and technology, but many students find that their zeal is diminished due to the gap between engineering practice
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