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Design Projects Concurrent with Capstone Design

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Capstone Courses and Project Based-Learning

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.373.1 - 24.373.6



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Paper Authors

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John-David S. Yoder Ohio Northern University

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Design Projects Concurrent with Capstone DesignNearly all Mechanical Engineering programs have a capstone design experience. In manycurricula, there is a classroom component that complements the capstone course. Thispaper presents a novel approach to that “complementary” class – one in which students areasked to complete two design projects concurrently with ongoing work on their capstoneproject.Some context must be provided in order to understand the motivation for this approach.First, at a small private Midwest university, the capstone projects are two-semesterprojects. In addition, each student group works on a different project. Some of thoseprojects are only mechanical engineering students, but the majority of groups includestudents from another department.There are four major reasons for the approach described in this paper: 1) Redesign is a critical part of the design process, and is covered in the course. However, since most students do not start prototype development until spring semester, redesign cannot be readily required and evaluated. 2) Similarly, the course project allows students to demonstrate the ability to demonstrate a testing and validation plan. This plan must be executed, and performance compared to expectations. The difference between the actual result and the expected result must then be explained and may lead to further redesign. 3) Because of the wide range of capstone projects, some students have limited need to identify customer needs in their capstone projects – particularly projects related to national competitions, or where an industry sponsor already has a complete job specification. Having an ambiguous project description requires all student teams to demonstrate the ability to carefully define the design problem, including customer needs, constraints, and criteria. 4) Having gone through all of these steps a first time, it is hoped that the quality of the senior design projects improves. Furthermore, many design tools are more easily learned on simpler projects of limited scope. By applying such tools in a limited context, students are better prepared to apply them to their more complex capstone projets.While students clearly learn from this process, they generally do not like this. Studentevaluations have shown that they feel they have too much “project work” between thiscourse and capstone. In addition, students often complain that topics such as testing andvalidation and redesign are “common sense”, though evaluation of their performance oftenindicates that students cannot do this with a high degree of proficiency.The paper will describe the course projects, further describe the context and motivation,and provide student feedback including survey results. The hope is to present a modelwhich other schools can consider as they work to get more design into the curriculum andimprove the quality of the capstone experience.

Yoder, J. S. (2014, June), Design Projects Concurrent with Capstone Design Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20264

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