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Senior Project Course Enhancement

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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

Capstone Projects and Experiential Learning

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1271.1 - 12.1271.16



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Paper Authors

author page

John Irwin Michigan Tech University

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

Senior Project Course Sequence Enhancement

Abstract Curriculum changes implemented to enhance the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) BS degree curriculum have brought about distinct differences in the methodology of teaching the Senior Design Project course sequence. The previous course sequence required a senior project course that spanned two semesters for the undergraduate student. The students sought out an advisor who offers a choice of senior project problem statements that most often require a team of 3 or 4 students to complete. The first semester of the senior project required the students to research the problem, submit weekly memos, midterm report of findings, and a final project proposal. After advisor input and approval the second semester concluded the project with the design documentation and often the manufacturing of a device to satisfy the design problem.

This course sequence is probably similar to many engineering or engineering technology degree programs which offer the students a capstone project simulating a workplace experience. There are inconsistencies in this experience, because each faculty advisor may have different level of expectations, amount of contact with the group, and degree of instruction of design principles. The change implemented at Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech) is a course to replace the first semester of senior project called Product Design and Development (PDD).

As the prerequisite to the one semester Senior Project course the PDD course is required of senior students. The students are still required to seek out an advisor and team members. The difference is that the students attend a regularly scheduled lab/recitation course to guide them through the design process from problem identification through the final project presentation stage. Topics including total quality management methods, Quality Function Deployment, design selection matrix, material selection, analysis, robust design, design for “X”. Additional design process tools are taught in the context of the senior project, and students are able to apply the tools learned in lecture activities during the lab with their senior project group.

The pedagogical challenges, advantages, disadvantages, as well as student reaction to the senior project course sequence will be discussed in the paper. Actual examples of senior projects from 2006-07 semesters will be presented as examples to illustrate the outcomes of the recently redesigned curriculum sequence.

Introduction At Michigan Tech, the School of Technology (SOT) is home to six Bachelor of Science Degree Programs; Computer Network and System Administration, Construction Management, Electrical Engineering Technology, Industrial Technology, Surveying Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET). The SOT is one-sixth the size of the College of Engineering in which the majority of the university’s approximately 5,500 undergraduate students are enrolled. The MET program is an ABET-accredited program and enrolls the most students of any SOT program— approximately 200 students. The SOT started offering Baccalaureate degrees in 1994

Irwin, J. (2007, June), Senior Project Course Enhancement Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2267

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