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An Industry-University Partnership Case Study

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Stimulating Broader Industrial Participation in Undergraduate Programs

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.176.1 - 22.176.10

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Paper Authors


Peter Schuster California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Peter Schuster is an Associate Professor in the Mechanical Engineering department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. His areas of interest include design, stress analysis, and biomechanics.

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A Case Study of Long-Term Industry-Student Project SupportAt many universities, senior undergraduate mechanical engineers work in teams on industry-sponsored capstone design projects. These projects provide an excellent opportunity for studentsto pull their courses together, work with more realistic deadlines and expectations of industry,and interact with company representatives. It also give industrial partners a chance to becomeeducational partners with the university, preview potential new hires, and complete some non-critical projects at low cost.This paper presents a case study of a successful long-term relationship between the AutomotiveBumpers committee of the American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI) and one mechanicalengineering department. Over the course of seven years, the AISI committee has sponsoredseven senior capstone design projects and three masters projects, providing excellent educationalopportunities for over thirty students! The projects ranged from specific vehicle bumper designsto building and testing a high-energy pendulum impact tester.The university benefited from this long-term relationship by gaining relevant student projects,supporting graduate students, and retaining a connection with industry. The industry consortiumbenefited by encouraging the study of topics of interest (steel design, impact analysis) at theundergraduate level, receiving out-of-the-box design concepts, and learning how bumpers maybe affected by future trends. The costs on both sides were kept low, to enable most of the fundsto go directly toward hardware so the students could build and test their designs.Student and consortium member comments, project triumphs and tribulations, and final teamgrades are all presented to demonstrate the overall success of the relationship. The paperconcludes with a discussion of the major success factors.

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