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The Catapult Experience A Learning Project On Taguchi Method For Design Optimization

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.983.1 - 6.983.12



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Ming Huang

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

Session 2525 The Catapult Experience – A Learning Project on Taguchi Method for Design Optimization Dr. Ming Z. Huang, P.E. Department of Mechanical Engineering Florida Atlantic University


Quality Engineering, a topic of practical importance to industry, is typically not given adequate attention in most engineering curriculum except perhaps in industrial engineering. While the extent of exposure of students to this topic may vary by discipline, its need has been unequivocally established, per ABET Criteria 3 (b)(c), that all should have the ability to design and conduct experiments and to analyze and interpret data-skills which are central to practice of quality engineering. In this paper, we present the plan and implementation of a guided project that integrates the learning and application of the Taguchi Method into a hands-on product design and test optimization experience. Made popular by Japanese manufacturers, the Taguchi method has since received widespread acceptance as the de facto standard technique to optimize the process and quality of engineering in major industries such as automotive and aerospace. With the task of design and construction of a catapult as the context of activities, the project serves as an ideal vehicle through which students can learn and apply the theory of Taguchi method in practice. In addition, it also provides an effective framework in which students are exposed to all elements of a real-life product development process, from design, analysis, prototyping, testing, to optimization.

I. Introduction

The capstone design experience in the Mechanical Engineering program at Florida Atlantic University consists of a sequence of two three credit hour courses, EML 4521C Engineering Design and EML 4551 Design Project. For a period spanning two semesters, typically Fall and Spring, mechanical engineering seniors working in teams, take on major projects that integrate elements of design, analysis, prototyping, and testing. While students entering the capstone sequence would already have a fair amount of exposure to various specific aspects of design and the design process at large, they generally lack a clear understanding of the framework and standards with which design projects are carried out in practice. Therefore a major emphasis of the course activities is to expose students to standard industrial practices; e.g., from maintaining logbooks, conducting design reviews, to producing engineering books complete with production drawings, and thus to require that the subsequent execution and deliverables of the project be conforming to such standards.

An important aspect of engineering practice in industry is that of quality engineering. It has been recognized that the quality, when measured as variations from the nominal (‘target’), is achieved

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society of Engineering Education

Huang, M. (2001, June), The Catapult Experience A Learning Project On Taguchi Method For Design Optimization Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--8986

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