June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Design in Engineering Education
15.835.1 - 15.835.9
Learning from Energy Conversion Related Capstone Projects Abstract
Students’ capstone-design projects are more and more focused on renewable energy generation and conversion due to ever-increasing energy consumption and a concern for environmental protection. The initial challenge arises from the first step in any design process -- how to justify working on energy-related topics given severe constraints on time and other resources in a typical capstone project. Since many topics and problems related to renewable energy have been investigated by well-equipped research teams all over the world, can student design teams make a significant and meaningful contribution to the use of renewable energy? Can students acquire useful knowledge in the application of physical and chemical principles for engineering design without duplicating or copying from existing products and processes?
During the past several years, our senior student capstone teams have designed biomass compactors, collecting and storing energy from human activities, biomass gasification equipment to generate fuel gas, solar water heaters, and similar projects. Some important lessons were learned from working on these design projects: 1) though the energy generated from human or animal physical activity may be limited, the design can still be innovative; 2) the process can also be an excellent intellectual exercise in the application of physics and chemistry principles; 3) the scope of each project must be well defined and managed in order to satisfy students, industrial reviewers, and project sponsors; and 4) some projects require multi-disciplinary teams for the production of meaningful results. Consequently, we have brought together faculty to begin the process of creating interdepartmental capstone teams for the future. These types of cooperative projects should be encouraged and promoted given our positive experience from previous endeavors.
With renewed and continuous student enthusiasm, as well as expressed community and faculty interest, more capstone design projects related to energy conversion have been planned for the future. These topics include biologically-based methane generation and storage, small steel tower design optimization for wind power generators, conversion and storage of energy from solar water heater, adaptor design for using biomass generated energy on internal combustion engines, and many others.
Engineering faculty and students desire to raise people’s standard of living and improve their quality of life. However, this undertaking demands a high consumption of energy. Traditionally, most energy comes from fossil fuels which is not only non-renewable, but also produces greenhouse gases which cause environmental degradation. To tackle this problem, senior mechanical engineering students at the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Lin, Y. (2010, June), Learning From Renewable Energy Related Capstone Projects Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16486
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