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Implementation of a “Rapid Design Challenge” in a Cross-Disciplinary Senior Capstone Course and Evaluation of Device Performance

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Biological and Agricultural Engineering Education Technical Session

Tagged Division

Biological & Agricultural

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.697.1 - 23.697.20



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Paper Authors

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Abby M Kelly University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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David Jones University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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Roger Michael Hoy University of Nebraska

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Evan Curtis University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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Angela Kaye Pannier University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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Richard R. Stowell P.E. University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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Implementation of a “Rapid Design Challenge” in a Cross-Disciplinary Senior Capstone Course and Evaluation of Device PerformanceWithin the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the senior capstone course sequence, AGEN/BSEN 470/480, is a two-semester longcourse (4 credit hours total, seniors only) designed to give students real-life design experience,working with real projects, real clients, faculty consultants, and teammates to produce adeliverable that suits the client’s needs. Students within this course sequence come from twodifferent degree programs (agricultural engineering and biological systems engineering) andwithin each degree program from a variety of “emphasis areas”, e.g. biomedical engineering,environmental engineering, machine design. While the goal of this course is for the students toexperience a “real” design project, we felt that we need to improve this senior design sequencewith an exercise that forced all students through a shared and “complete” design process.Therefore, beginning in 2010, we implement a two-week, rapid design challenge at the beginningof the AGEN/BESN 470 senior design experience, based on a similar challenge developed atBucknell University (Tranquillo, 2009, ASEE Proceedings). This abbreviated design experiencechallenges the students to rapidly learn and implement the basic steps of design to produce afunctional prototype, which is displayed and tested during a design challenge contest. Thechallenge presented to students is to design and build a device for a third-world clinic to infuse acholera treatment solution, at a very specific flow rate and time for injection, with technicalconstraints that the device cannot use an external power source, must be portable and oncestarted must operate without any manual intervention. During this two week challenge, sixdifferent assignments are due, moving the students through the design process and guiding themto develop a problem statement, technical specifications, user needs, alternative solutions, testingprocedures and data, and a final solution. Teams are given $25 to build their device and time totest and reiterate their design before a final competition between teams. They are alsoencouraged to keep their design confidential from other teams. The team with a device that mostclosely achieves the dictated criteria (60 cc of solution delivered in 5 minutes at a constant flowrate of 12 cc/min) wins the competition. As a part of this challenge we have developed a systemto evaluate the performance of each design using a National Instruments (NI) data acquisitionsystem, NI LabView software and two Micro Motion coriolis flow measuring devices. Asidefrom the flow measurement itself, the software continuously calculates and displays the averageflow rate, the standard deviation of the flow rate, and the delivery time. When all of thetreatment has been administered, the software calculates a score based on flow accuracy andprecision. Scores are combined with faculty judge evaluations within the LabView program anddisplayed throughout the competition. This exercise has revitalized the course and ensured thatall students share a common and successful design experience. In addition, we then use theRapid Design Challenge to introduce all future topics in the course.

Kelly, A. M., & Jones, D., & Hoy, R. M., & Curtis, E., & Pannier, A. K., & Stowell, R. R. (2013, June), Implementation of a “Rapid Design Challenge” in a Cross-Disciplinary Senior Capstone Course and Evaluation of Device Performance Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19709

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