June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Design in Engineering Education
15.555.1 - 15.555.22
Experiences of Using Formula SAE as a Capstone Design Project
Capstone Design courses are, by their nature, intended to test the abilities students have gained over their college careers and to provide a design experience that simulates real-world engineering. An important factor in giving students a valuable Capstone Design experience is the selection of an appropriate project. A good project for this purpose should have appropriate technical rigor and allow students to focus as much as possible on engineering design rather than on logistical activities like fundraising. Further, the work done by students in the course should be assessable, both for the purposes of accreditation and for assignment of grades. Additionally, the deadlines imposed must be appropriate, and evaluation criteria need to be established.
One solution for many of the project planning aspects of Capstone Design is a student engineering competition, many of which are sponsored by professional societies. The Mechanical Engineering program at York College of Pennsylvania has been using Formula SAE® as a project since 2007, with one or both authors advising the project since 2008. We discuss the pros and cons of such a project as a Capstone Design experience, including its technical merits and scope; how it lends itself to assessment of course outcomes and of student work; time spent on fundraising rather than on design; the effect of imposing a one-year design cycle on this project, when other schools have a multi-year cycle; keeping students focused on the educational rather than competitive aspects of the project; and dealing with conflicts that arise due to the externally-imposed deadlines. We find that such a project is an attractive option for a small program, with its benefits outweighing its downsides. We also give some suggestions for a program that may be considering using this particular project for Capstone Design, including expectations of performance, building from one year to the next, and the limitations of FSAE in terms of assessing course or program objectives and student work.
1.1 Capstone Design at York College of Pennsylvania
Under the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education, York College of Pennsylvania is a four-year, medium-sized private four-year institution with professions plus arts and sciences and some graduate coexistence.1 Mechanical engineering majors make-up about 3 annual graduates (about 20 students) and there are no graduate programs in engineering. York College of Pennsylvania has five full-time mechanical engineering faculty members.
There are a number of challenges in administering a successful Capstone Design program at schools like York College of Pennsylvania with small student and faculty populations. With
Dawson, J., & Kuchnicki, S. (2010, June), Experiences Of Using Formula Sae As A Capstone Design Project Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15685
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