Asee peer logo

Multi-Disciplinary Capstone Project on Self-Replicating 3-D Printer

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Best Practices and Lessons Learned in Design Projects

Tagged Division


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Elaine M. Cooney Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis

visit author page

Elaine Cooney is the Chair of the Department of Engineering Technology and the Program Director for Electrical Engineering Technology at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. She is also a Senior IDEAL Scholar with ABET, which means that she presents assessment workshops with other Senior IDEAL Scholars.

visit author page


Paul Robert Yearling Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis

visit author page

Paul Yearling
Education: PhD. Major: Mechanical Engineering, Minor: Applied Mathematics
Professional Engineer License
Certifications: Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
Current Position: Associate Chair Engineering Technology and Mechanical Engineering Technology Program Director

Industrial Experience

Over 20 years of industrial experience initially as a Royal Naval Dockyard indentured craftsman machinist and Design Draftsman and project manager on Leander class Steam Turbine Naval frigates and diesel electric submarines. Most recently includes 12 years in Research and Development and Lean Six Sigma process improvement experience troubleshooting process issues in the Paper, Chemical, and Converting Industries.

visit author page


Jacob Allen Smith Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis

visit author page

During the completion of this project I was a student of IUPUI. I worked on the Electrical Engineering Technology side of the project in conjunction with another student. I also served as the main Project Manager for the student groups and to the Project Heads Elaine Cooney and Paul Yearling. Both stated that my management skills on the project were incremental to the completion of the project in a timely manner.

visit author page

Download Paper |


This paper explores the dynamics of a multi-semester multi-disciplinary team approach applied within a traditional senior capstone project that involves strong design and manufacturing components. In addition, the logistics of running a successful senior project will be discussed along with the associated problems of organization within a multi-program environment. The key drivers and motivators behind this paper are, most importantly, that multi-disciplinary teams are very common in industry and that our industrial advisory boards for Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) suggested that we do more multi-disciplinary projects. Furthermore, this multi-disciplinary team approach will satisfy the proposed ABET/ETAC outcomes for 2016. The Proposed Revisions to the Program Criteria for Mechanical Engineering Technology and Similarly Named Programs ABET/ETAC outcomes say “The capstone experience, ideally multidisciplinary in nature, must be project based and include formal design, implementation and test processes.” (emphasis added) Faculty searched for a technology that would allow both EET and MET students to contribute equally to the success of the project, and decided upon additive manufacturing. Students have been exposed extensively through formal course material covering 3D printing technology and would be familiar with the operation of 3D printers in general. Therefore, it was reasoned a familiarity with the project goal of designing and constructing a self-replicating 3D printer would give students more confidence in tackling the difficult task of managing an extended project over both the design and manufacture phases, and mastering effective communicate across disciplines. The student team organization mirrors current industry standard operating procedures. First, the team is multidisciplinary, including EET students with programing and circuits skills and MET students with CAD, design, mechanical analysis skills. All students must demonstrate project process skills, utilizing current design for six-sigma procedures. The students learn a standard set of tools to manage the project, as well as synthesize those tools with their discipline specific knowledge. Because of the program curriculum plans, the EET students are involved in the project for two semesters. The MET students have a one semester project course; this enables one group of MET students to design the mechanical system, document their work, and pass it on to a second team for implementation. This was considered a positive based on what is typical in industry, where engineering groups are constantly interfacing. Results include observations of group member dynamics, quality of work, timeliness, budget management, and communication across disciplines. Rubrics to document student achievement of outcomes are used.

Cooney, E. M., & Yearling, P. R., & Smith, J. A. (2016, June), Multi-Disciplinary Capstone Project on Self-Replicating 3-D Printer Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25759

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015