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Is It Senior Design Or A High Tech Start Up?

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.819.1 - 9.819.8



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Paper Authors

author page

Ken Ports

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

Is It Senior Design or a High Tech Start-Up?

Ken Ports Florida Institute of Technology

Abstract The Senior Design course taken near the end of an engineer’s undergraduate tenure is increasingly recognized as a “capstone” activity, enabling these future professionals to apply their collegiate education and experience in a team environment to solving real world problems or to creating new capabilities. Ideally, Senior Design teams are also cross-functional, to broaden the projects and better replicate the professional world. In addition, there is a growing interest in linking Senior Design with entrepreneurial activities, even to the point of commercializing promising project results.

The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of Florida Tech has structured its senior design course sequence to replicate many of the activities that would be appropriate for a start-up venture, or a corporate product line introducing a new suite of products. In addition to the traditional preliminary and critical design reviews and a demonstration of the completed project, students learn about the industrial new product pipeline and generate feasibility studies, business plans, prototyping, validation reviews, and launch collateral to support a “market introduction” of their product. Senior Design culminates with a public “trade show” held as a feature of the University’s spring Open House for the families of interested high school students. Most of the teams span multiple departments, and this year one team spans two universities and two others are contemplating commercializing their products, utilizing Florida Tech’s new business accelerator, Florida TechStart.

Background The Florida Institute of Technology (aka Florida Tech) is a private university of about 3500 students located in Melbourne, on the high technology “Space Coast” of Florida, about 30 miles south of Cape Canaveral. The principal component of the university is the College of Engineering (CoE), which harbors about half of the total enrollment. The CoE offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. Within the College of Engineering are seven departments: Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Engineering Systems, Marine and Environmental Systems, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. All of the departments except Engineering Systems, which currently only offers graduate programs, require their students to participate in Senior Design as part of their program core curricula. Each department managed their own senior design courses, and there was no formal or systematic interaction between the departments in this regard.

The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department senior design course sequence comprised two consecutive courses taken during the senior year, in which students formed teams and took on engineering projects designed to exercise their technical, practical and teamwork skills. Most of the project teams would contain a mix of electrical and computer engineering Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Ports, K. (2004, June), Is It Senior Design Or A High Tech Start Up? Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13052

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