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Senior Design In A Paperless Environment

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Unique Developments in Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1267.1 - 12.1267.14



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Paper Authors

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Mark Ackerman University of Alberta

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Curt Stout University of Alberta

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

Senior Design in a Paperless Environment


Design is a difficult subject to teach as there are no “right answers” and each design problem is open ended; that is there are multiple acceptable solutions. Designs typically generate tremendous amounts of paper, either in the form of reports, calculations, drawings or specifications. The cost of producing this quantity of paper has traditionally been bourne by the students, in addition to all of the other costs of taking a University course.

Mechanical Engineering at the University of ______ undertook to remove the paper associated with the design courses. Recent advances in technology have made this transition possible and feedback from the students involved has been very positive. The transition has not been without a cost, both in dollars and time, but the benefits as measured both in student and academic satisfaction have been significant.

The paperless environment was initiated with the senior design course but has since migrated to all design courses given within the department. The primary requirements for going paperless were willingness on the part of the academic staff to move away from traditional methods and a commitment on the part of the departmental governance to invest in new technology.


The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of _______ has embarked on an ambitious plan to remove all paper from its design stream and has attempted to use state of the art technology to achieve this goal. To illustrate how the paperless environment was implemented the Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Course was chosen as an illustrative example.

Engineering at the University of _______ consists of a common first year with enrolment numbering about 1000 students after which the students choose a specialization subject to quotas within each department. As a result Mechanical Engineering receives 160 -180 students into second year. The program has been mirrored (each course each term to keep class sizes less than 100) and as a result the senior design course has 80-100 students per 4 month term. The students are asked to form their own design groups (4 students per group) and are then asked at submit a request for one of the 20-25 projects available for the term. Projects are then assigned on a “first come first served basis” putting the onus back on to the students for researching the projects and getting the requests in early.

The revised design program incorporates four features:

• Industrially sponsored projects • A rigorous design methodology • A paperless environment for all course submissions • A consistent approach to design at all levels of the undergraduate program

Ackerman, M., & Stout, C. (2007, June), Senior Design In A Paperless Environment Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2375

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