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An Enhanced Educational Experience For Capstone Design Projects: Using Sae Student Groups In An Industry Sponsor Role

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.172.1 - 7.172.6



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Brooks Byam

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Session 1566

An Enhanced Educational Experience for Capstone Design Projects: Using SAE Student Groups in An Industry Sponsor Role

Brooks P. Byam Department of Mechanical Engineering Saginaw Valley State University


The Mechanical Engineering Department at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) is enhancing the educational experience of students by using Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) student groups in the role of industry sponsor for capstone design projects. In many engineering programs, industry sponsors are used as a resource for capstone design projects. This format involves many institutional and educational benefits and challenges. Industry sponsors provide capstone design students with a project that includes a problem definition, domain knowledge, possible funding, and possible facilities. Capstone students work in a team on the project, experiencing the technical, teamwork, leadership, political, and emotional aspects of the design process. The institution provides advanced technical and, sometimes, entrepreneurial outreach to the region. Using SAE student groups in an industry sponsor role enhances the education experience in many ways. The SAE student group gains the experience of managing an engineering project by providing the problem definition, prioritizing groups, choosing the projects to outsource, establishing budgets, setting deadlines, allocating resources, and supplying the domain knowledge. Capstone students involved in these projects experience all the hig hs and lows of these challenges. The SAE student group sees the benefits from a form of outreach. Using SAE student groups in the industry sponsor role exposes SVSU engineering students to a broader design process experience, thus enhancing their education.


Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) is a regional comprehensive public university with a current level of enrollment of approximately 9000 students. The university is located in a heavily industrialized area of east-central Michigan in which over 2200 manufacturing firms, ranging from small operations to Fortune 500 companies such as The Dow Chemical Company and Delphi Saginaw Steering Systems, are based. The ABET accredited mechanical engineering undergraduate program resides within the College of Science, Engineering and Technology. The SVSU mechanical engineering capstone design experience has some projects sponsored externally by regional industry and some projects sponsored internally. In 1998, a group of SVSU students participated in Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Formula SAE (FSAE) competition. This small dedicated group of students had limited success finishing 89 th out of 95 schools. In an attempt to increase student participation and placement in this outstanding collegiate design

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Byam, B. (2002, June), An Enhanced Educational Experience For Capstone Design Projects: Using Sae Student Groups In An Industry Sponsor Role Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10251

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