June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Design in Engineering Education
11.1116.1 - 11.1116.14
Senior Design Projects in Mechanical Engineering -- A Case Study of Capstone Experience with Strong Industrial Participation
The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering adopted an integrated curriculum in the late 90s. The curriculum features a capstone one-year senior design course in which students work in teams tackling engineering problems provided and sponsored by industrial partners. This paper describes the evolution of the capstone course over the last seven years, and the reasons behind many of these changes. As the course matured, the department has been able to attract more and more industrial sponsors; today almost all the senior projects are sponsored by industry. This high level of industrial participation as well as many years of improving course management and delivery allow us to draw some important conclusions on what constitute “best practices” for capstone design courses.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering adopted an integrated curriculum in the late 90s. Major themes within the discipline are grouped in two- semester sequences with a corresponding laboratory (e.g., thermal-fluids, mechanics and materials, etc.). The teaching of design has been integrated to the curriculum by devoting a certain fraction of the coursework or labs to open-ended design problems. Likewise, formal introduction to the engineering design method is made at the sophomore level in two courses: Introduction to Mechanical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering Tools. These courses introduce the design cycle, and expose students to design concepts by using problems within reach at the sophomore level (e.g., statics, simple material selections, etc.). The tools course introduces the students to the machine shop and to the software packages they need to master in order to successfully operate in an engineering environment (spreadsheets, CAD, etc.). Design components are then threaded through the curriculum, with each course devoting a certain fraction of homework (and corresponding credit) to design-oriented problem. Many of the labs also feature activities in which the students work in teams to design systems relevant to the course subject matter. The curriculum is capped with a one-year senior design project in which the students work in teams to design and implement products or systems under the sponsorship of an industrial partner. In its seventh year this capstone course has undergone changes as a result of the lessons-learned. This paper chronicles that evolution (and the reasons behind it), and describes in detail the format and mechanisms used at the present time. A summary of our observations is given at the end to support what we believe are “best practices” in the conduct of team-based capstone design courses.
Evolution of the Capstone Design Experience Course
It has been recognized that capstone design courses represent an excellent vehicle to round out a good engineering education and they provide the appropriate platform for students to apply design thinking and transition into a professional career1 . Many universities have adopted this model for their engineering curricula2,3,4 .At our department this course was first introduced as a
Luongo, C., & Shih, C. (2006, June), Senior Design Projects In Mechanical Engineering – A Case Study Of Capstone Experience With Strong Industrial Participation Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--408
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