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Industry Based Design Projects In The Junior Year: Making The Transition To Senior Projects

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Incorporating Projects into the Curriculum

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.754.1 - 11.754.14



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Paper Authors


Robert Choate Western Kentucky University

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Robert Choate teaches thermo-fluid and professional component courses in Mechanical Engineering, including the Sophomore Design, Junior Design, the Senior ME Lab I and the ME Senior Project Design course sequence. Prior to teaching at WKU, he was a principal engineer for CMAC Design Corporation, designing and verifying thermal management solutions for telecommunication, data communication and information technology equipment.

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Kevin Schmaltz Western Kentucky University

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Kevin Schmaltz teaches thermo-fluid and professional component courses in Mechanical Engineering, including the Freshman Experience course, Sophomore Design, Junior Design and the Senior Project Design course sequence. Prior to teaching at WKU, he was a project engineer for Shell Oil, designing and building oil and gas production facilities for offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

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

Industry-Based Design Projects in the Junior Year: Making the Transition to Senior Projects

Abstract The Mechanical Engineering faculty at Western Kentucky University have developed and implemented a Professional Plan to assure that graduates of the program will have experienced key areas of the engineering profession and demonstrated their abilities to perform in a professional manner. This Professional Component has been divided into Engineering Design, Professional Communications, Professional (Computer) Tools, and Ethics, with students receiving instruction and practice in each area at least once per academic year.

The intended transition from students as observers to graduates as competent practitioners is accomplished by project activities demonstrating the practice of engineering over the entire curriculum. Freshmen individually build artifacts, sophomores function in design teams, and juniors extend the design experience to an external audience. Seniors are thus prepared to implement industry-based projects subject to realistic constraints and customer needs. In the junior design course, an industry based design project provides a structured design experience with an external flavor. Student teams must demonstrate problem-solving under time and budget constraints, as well as creativity. Our Professional Plan assessment indicated that immersion of the senior students in an external industrial project was possibly too abrupt an experience without additional opportunities to demonstrate their proficiency as an engineer and to gain confidence in their professional abilities. Through the Junior Design course, students are engaged earlier in their path to becoming practicing engineers through an externally defined design, build and test projects, increasing both their proficiency and confidence.

In the Junior Design course, student teams present their proposed designs to industry engineering and management personnel at a design review and in a professional presentation. In addition, student teams submit a final engineering project report to the client. Over the three offerings of the course, 39 junior mechanical engineering students have engaged in this project based learning experience and have successfully completed the virtual design, build and testing of their systems through their design proposals

The Junior Design implementation of the external industry design project has evolved over the past three years guided by ongoing assessment of both the course and the Professional Component program outcomes. This is a strength of the Professional Component framework that allows for building upon previous coursework, assessing student progress, and adjusting course coverage based on prior assessments to assure that graduating ME students are capable of practicing as engineers.

Choate, R., & Schmaltz, K. (2006, June), Industry Based Design Projects In The Junior Year: Making The Transition To Senior Projects Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--886

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