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Design, Build And Test: An Approach For A Capstone Design Course In Engineering Technology

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Technology Curriculum

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.375.1 - 13.375.11



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Paper Authors


Jorge Alvarado Texas A&M University

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Dr. Jorge Alvarado is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University. He teaches courses in the areas of thermal sciences, fluid mechanics and fluid power. Dr. Alvarads research interests are in the areas of nanotechnology, micro-scale heat transfer, electronic cooling, phase change materials, solid and liquid desiccant regeneration, energy conservation and use of renewable energy in buildings. He received his BS degree in mechanical engineering (1991) from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez; MS (2000) and PhD (2004) degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Angie Hill Price

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Dr. Angie Price is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University. She teaches courses in the areas of welding, project management, and design. Dr. Price's research interests are in welding processes and troubleshooting, welding metallurgy, thermal damage from grinding of precision gears, weld overlay systems. She received her BS degree in engineering technology (1987), MS in industrial engineering (1990), and PhD (1999) degree in interdisciplinary engineering from Texas A&M University.

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Michael Johnson Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Johnson is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University. Prior to joining the faculty at Texas A&M, he was a senior product development engineer at the 3M Corporate Research Laboratory in St. Paul, Minnesota. He received his S.M. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Johnsos research focuses on the cost modeling and analysis of product development and manufacturing systems.

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

Design, Build and Test: An Approach for a Capstone Design Course in Engineering Technology


Undergraduate engineering technology students traditionally take a capstone or senior design course during their last semester which involves the design of an engineering system that has a real application. Senior design projects usually focus on specific design aspects including equipment sizing, cost analysis, and material selection; however, many senior design courses do not give students the opportunity to apply hands-on skills or produce a real physical prototype. Furthermore, few engineering technology courses provide the opportunity to approach practical design and production problems in a comprehensive and holistic manner. There is a real need to expose students to a variety of design considerations as well as production, construction, or testing activities so that they may grasp fully the importance of the design process. Students also should learn to take into consideration constraints such as time, cost, and space during the design process.

In this paper, a case study is presented in which a group of senior design students was able to design, build, and test a passive cooling system for residential, commercial, and industrial flat roofs. First, the students created a number of designs for a passive cooling system taking into consideration material properties, cost, manufacturability, and proven passive cooling concepts. The students then evaluated each of the design options and fabricated only those with the best overall design attributes. All prototypes were tested using a lab-scale experimental set up capable of measuring the thermal performance of each specimen. The students also provided a thorough discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of each prototype, and recommended a course of action for the potential commercialization of the proposed technology.

The case study illustrates that students can learn to design, build and test a simple system taking into account several objectives and attributes in a comprehensive manner. This particular experience indicates that future capstone design courses should regularly consider prototype construction and testing as essential components of the entire design process.

Introduction and Motivation

Senior design courses offer students the opportunity to manage a multidisciplinary capstone project in a relatively short period of time; however, few colleges and universities have student projects that involve design, construction, and testing of multi-component systems1-2 in the same course. In some universities, the senior-design course is preceded by a structured course sequence3-4 to guarantee a certain level of expertise before students take their final design course. Others1,5 have design-build-test senior capstone projects that take an entire academic year to complete. The design, construction, and testing of a mechanical system requires a good understanding of basic principles to be able to meet the established design criteria; however, senior design projects should also give the students the opportunity to see first hand the different phases of product development in a short period of time (i.e. one semester). In addition, engineering and engineering technology students should be able to:

Alvarado, J., & Hill Price, A., & Johnson, M. (2008, June), Design, Build And Test: An Approach For A Capstone Design Course In Engineering Technology Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3770

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