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Role For Axiomatic Design In Teaching Capstone Courses

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

DEED Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1093.1 - 10.1093.17



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Paper Authors

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Steven Beyerlein

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

Role of Axiomatic Design in Teaching Capstone Courses Edwin Odom, Steven Beyerlein, Christopher A. Brown, Daniel Drew, Lloyd Gallup, Sam Zimmerman, and Jeremy Olberding

University of Idaho/Worcester Polytechnic Institute


Helping undergraduate engineering students learn effective design practices that are applicable to the modern workplace is one of the most complex challenges of engineering education. One strategy to help students master open-ended design projects is to use a systematic process. However, students often want to jump past the front end of the design process and this compromises the quality of the final product. This paper examines the suitability of Axiomatic Design in addressing this problem. Central to Axiomatic Design is early identification of uncoupled design parameters that address independent functional requirements. A new design process, incorporating Axiomatic Design methods along with the use of Acclaro software ( was developed in this work and piloted with several capstone design teams at the University of Idaho during the current academic year. Early indications are that these teams were more successful in establishing functional requirements that were more complete, more logically hierarchical, and more independent than other design teams. Furthermore, design ideas discussed by these teams seemed to be accepted or rejected on their own technical merits, rather than the force of the personalities of students who presented them. Thus, we have concluded that axiomatic design helps capstone teams produce higher quality design projects.

1. Introduction

This paper explores benefits and issues associated with incorporating Axiomatic Design into a capstone design experience. Specifically, we wanted to determine if Axiomatic Design could alleviate difficulties encountered when using a traditional algorithmic approach to design. We focused on the problem definition, solidification of the conceptual design, and the completion of CAD drawings that identify design parameters that satisfy functional requirements.

In the traditional algorithmic approach, which has been used with over one hundred capstone design projects at the University of Idaho, about half the projects suffer from the need to rectify unforeseen problems that necessitate substantial iteration and additional expenditures late in the design process. This approach involves problem definition with a list of “musts” and “shoulds,” idea generation, and concept selection. The approach is algorithmic in that a sequence of activities is prescribed, and the implication is that a good design process results in a good design product. In this process, there are no generally applicable rules to assess the success of the design, other that how well the design complies with the list of “musts” and “shoulds.”

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Beyerlein, S. (2005, June), Role For Axiomatic Design In Teaching Capstone Courses Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14684

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