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Further Development of Capstone Design Project Courses based on a Case Study

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

ETD Capstone Projects

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

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Paper Authors


Junkun Ma Sam Houston State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Junkun Ma is currently an Associate Professor of Engineering Technology at Sam Houston State University (SHSU). He teaches courses in areas related to product design, manufacturing processes, CAD, and HVAC. His research interests include finite element method (FEM) based numerical simulation, heat transfer and fluid dynamics with application to alternative energy, and engineering education.

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Case Dakota Born

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Capstone design project courses for engineering technology program are designed to develop students' skills to apply technical knowledge to solve complex engineering problems with practical applications. Other than being an evaluation tool, these courses provide opportunities for students to demonstrate and showcase their understanding of course materials, creativity, and problem solving skills. In many cases, senior design projects for engineering technology major students focus primarily on the technical aspects involving engineering design and analysis, prototyping, measurement and test, and improvement. This paper investigates the potentials to further develop capstone design project courses so that students in other non-technical disciplines such as business can be part of the projects.

As a case study, this paper discusses a senior design project carried out by a mechanical engineering technology major student. The project focuses on design and fabrication of a utility trailer with a height adjustable main deck targeting the market of towing needs for riding utilities such as motorcycle. Using a fully self-contained pneumatic system that powers air bags functioning as both actuators and suspension as well as custom designed trailing arms to control independent swing arms, the trailer allows the main deck to be lowered to ground level which makes loading/unloading more convenient and eliminates the need for loading ramp. When preparing the trailer for travel, the main deck will be adjusted to a ride height matching that of the hitch on the towing vehicle. As a result, possible hazardous conditions associated with uneven main deck such as sway and loss of traction due to hard braking, strong wind, and fast turning can be avoided.

Technical details including tools used for design of customized components, strength analysis for material selection, fabrication techniques, design and construction of control and monitoring system are briefly introduced. Activities associated with the development of the utility trailer focusing on the non-technical aspects such as successfully marketing the utility trailer for profit, design of distribution and service mechanisms, and development of options for different markets will be discussed with the objectives to further develop these courses to incorporate these components into the projects by involving students from other disciplines. Possibilities to have students from all disciplines to work as a team to conduct analysis of the relationships between non-technical and technical components such as how cost analysis could change material selection and associated manufacturing processes, and how market study could affect design options will be discussed. The ultimate goal is to have students to experience the complete circle of product design and development including opportunity identification, concept design, specify technical specifications, product design and prototyping, test and improvement, service design, distribution, finance analysis, and project management, and thus making capstone design projects more practical from both the technical and the business point of views.

Ma, J., & Born, C. D. (2017, June), Further Development of Capstone Design Project Courses based on a Case Study Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28395

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