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The Impact of the Product Design Process on Final Year Design Projects

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Design Methodology and Evaluation 2

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1212.1 - 23.1212.13



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Paper Authors


April M. Bryan University of the West Indies

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April Bryan is a Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. Her areas of expertise are product design and development, design optimization, manufacturing systems, and concurrent engineering. She currently teaches courses in drawing and graphics, and engineering design.

Dr. Bryan is a 2008 alumna of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she obtained her Ph.D. and M.Sc. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and a 2000 alumna of Tuskegee University where she obtained her B.Sc. degree in Aerospace Science Engineering. She also gained industrial experience as a Design Engineer at John Deere.

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Evaluation of the Contribution of the Application of the Product Design Process to Student Success in Final Year Design ProjectsIn an effort to better prepare students for the workplace, many institutions incorporatedesign courses throughout their curriculum. The content and nature of these coursesoften vary across institutions. Some schools incorporate design courses into everyyear of their program, while others provide students with a single capstone designexperience in the final year. While some institutions use problem based learningapproaches, others use guided experiential learning to teach engineering design.Design courses also vary is in the source of the projects. In some institutions,instructors design the courses while in other institutions propose their design projects.A recent trend has been the use of industry-led and service-based projects forcapstone design courses. Projects often vary by team size and may consist of teams ofone to as many as five members.A review of the literature reveals that there has been considerable investigation intothe techniques used to teach design. However, much less attention has been given tothe assessment of the effectiveness of these techniques in enhancing students’ designskills. This latter point is important, as it is the reason for the growing popularity ofdesign education. This lack of assessment is due to the fact that design techniques aretypically taught during the latter stages of the final year of the curriculum and oftenconcomitantly with the students’ final year capstone design projects. Therefore,students apply the skills as they are taught. The first time they often design on theirown is in the workplace.The institution under investigation offers a unique opportunity to study theeffectiveness of teaching design skills to students in general and the design process inparticular. At this institution, a problem based learning approach is used to teachstudents the product development process and the design process in two coursesacross two semesters during the student’s second year of study. The course contentincludes all aspects of the design process from problem definition to prototyping. Inthe first semester, the emphasis is on component design, while in the second semesterthe emphasis is on system level design. In both these courses, students work in teamsof three to four students to apply these techniques to solve design projects a that havebeen defined by the course instructor. Then in their final year of study, students workindividually on yearlong projects that are provided by industry, an instructor, or bythe students themselves. There is no teaching component. For these projects,instructors serve as engineering managers/supervisor and students are responsible fordefining and implementing their projects. Therefore, the success of the projectsdepends on the student.This paper will first assess the extent to which students in the latter final year courseadopt and apply the product development processes that were taught in the secondyear course. It will then evaluate the impact that adoption of these techniques had onthe success of their projects. To this end, the benefit of teaching product design anddevelopment in the second year course can be determined.

Bryan, A. M. (2013, June), The Impact of the Product Design Process on Final Year Design Projects Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22597

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