June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.193.1 - 14.193.8
Experimental Setup for Optimal Design of a Human-Powered Hydraulic Bicycle
Product development competitions through capstone design courses pose both, opportunities and challenges for graduating seniors in engineering and engineering technology programs. Faculties of relevant programs recognize the value of industry-sponsored projects for involvement of students in genuine practice of the design process, and for participation in major competitions. This can result in supportive sponsors, substantial resources, and enhanced motivation for the students. However, such competitions may also impose process, materials, fabrication, time, and performance constraints that are not usually encountered in a typical capstone design project.
This paper discusses senior design projects that have been based on a national hydraulic bicycle design competition sponsored by a major corporation. Incorporating long-term performance criteria of a product/system at an early stage of the design cycle was beneficial, and this experience is discussed. However, the team encountered a variety of challenges in working through the many constraints of the competition. Because such competitions typically work from a industry rather than an academic timeline, tasks such as prototyping, design refinement, fabrication, and a performance-based competition may be overwhelming for a two-semester project. Similarly, variability of the design team, integration of multiple design concepts in the final design, selection of available industrial components in lieu of specified components in the design are faced and also discussed in this paper. All of these specific conditions affect the implementation method of a traditional engineering design process and must be addressed by faculty. Thus, while industry-sponsored competitions offer exciting potential for capstone design projects, it is important that faculty, students, and sponsors recognize and respond to the constraints and challenges they are likely to face in successful completion of these projects.
Prior to graduation, in most four-year technical programs, seniors are required to demonstrate ability to apply their academic learning and skills through a design and development project in a multi-semester capstone design course. There, a group of students are supervised by faculty to undertake a project which leads them through the general design process. Students solve the design problem from concept to finished product, going through design specification, analysis, improvement, and finally demonstrate successful performance of their design using a prototype or even the actual product. It might be an open-ended multidisciplinary team project involving design, analysis, or application with results presented in a written report in specified format. In many programs students also present their projects in public forum. In this type of project, students must be able to apply technical tools and skills to develop a solution for the chosen problem. To plan and track their progress, the students often use project management tools. Beyond the stated objective of the project, in the process the students also learn the importance of professional behavior, engineering ethics, role of a team member, need for lifelong learning and effective communication of project objectives, analysis and recommendations.
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