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Capstone Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Uses Racecar

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.137.1 - 5.137.7



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Paper Authors

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Edward F. Young

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Jeffrey Morehouse

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Jed Lyons

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

Session 1526

Capstone Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Uses Racecar

Jed Lyons, Edward F. Young, Jeffrey Morehouse University of South Carolina

Abstract A capstone mechanical engineering laboratory course is being implemented at the University of South Carolina that develops the student's abilities to analyze complex mechanical and thermal systems, to design experiments, and to develop their professional skills. The course is based upon an integrated sequence of laboratory experiments on a Legends-class racecar. This vehicle is chosen as the system of study because it provides opportunities for the students to apply the spectrum of their mechanical engineering knowledge. It's also exciting to the students. As the students progress through the series of experiments, they are increasingly involved in experimental design (selecting sensors, sensor locations and experimental operating conditions). The course culminates in a truly open-ended design of an experiment of their choosing. This course development project is supported by the National Science Foundation’ Instrumentation s and Laboratory Improvement Program, the NSF’ Course, Curriculum and Laboratory s Improvement Program, and the University of South Carolina. This paper describes the work in progress.

I. Motivation and Context for this Project An integral part of the undergraduate mechanical engineering curricula at the University of South Carolina is sequence of four mechanical engineering laboratory courses. The capstone senior laboratory course, Mechanical Systems Laboratory is a two-credit hour course that includes one hour of lecture and three hours of lab each week. Laboratories are offered to sections of about eight students. A major function of this course is to illustrate upper-level mechanical engineering topics. Historically, the experiments were selected primarily to do this and, as a result, they were not directly related to one another. As a result, there were a large number of relatively expensive laboratory equipment items to be maintained, which occupied laboratory space, yet were used only once a semester. Because the students went from one unrelated experiment to another throughout the semester, they did not have the opportunity to develop the “system level” perspective necessary to analyze and understand complex thermal and mechanical systems. Further, because the students were required to run a different experiment each week, many of the laboratories were “canned” in that they did not require any design of the experiment.

In 1997 the department began implementing an outcomes-based assessment process in preparation for ABET accreditation under Engineering Criteria 2000. As part of that processes, it was determined that the capstone Mechanical Systems Laboratory should support several of the program’ outcomes, including: s • The graduates shall have the ability to analyze, design and realize mechanical and thermal systems.

Young, E. F., & Morehouse, J., & Lyons, J. (2000, June), Capstone Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Uses Racecar Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8198

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