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Total Design Studio

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.670.1 - 5.670.7



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Massoud S. Tavakoli

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

Session 1426

Total Design Studio Massoud S. Tavakoli Kettering University


At Kettering University (formerly GMI Engineering & Management Institute), three conditions reduce the effectiveness of how the engineering design process is taught, especially in capstone design courses: 1) fragmented approach to teaching design, 2) short quarter system (11 weeks of instruction), and 3) alternating work and study terms required by, and essential to Kettering’s cooperative education program. As a potential solution, with help from NSF and several interested industrial partners, a design environment called “Total Design Studio” has been set up at Kettering University. Here, all necessary tools for conducting a complete design cycle have been gathered under one roof. Access to CAD software and internet has been provided. A few key technologies, such as rapid prototyping and imaging systems, have been incorporated into the studio as well. As phase one, a capstone design course has been given use of the facilities. The impact of the studio on the students’ design output has been qualitatively evaluated. Also, the advantages and the drawbacks of introducing high technology into undergraduate environment have been documented. As phase two, two alternative plans have been developed to expand the design activity from one term to two terms in order to avoid the current time crunch. Of course, both these plans include design activities to be performed over the work-term when the students are at their sponsoring companies. These plans will be evaluated for implementation in the near future.

I. Problem Background

Kettering University is an ABET accredited, private, not-for-profit and primarily undergraduate degree granting institution. The undergraduate program is a mandatory five-year cooperative education program. Approximately 2,400 students gain up to two-and-three-quarters years of practical work experience with about 600 co-op employers at more than 825 locations. The Mechanical Engineering Department at Kettering ranks within the top five nationally in terms of size and number of graduates. The Mechanical Engineering curriculum is highly laboratory- based with a unique feature where at the beginning of the Junior year, the curriculum branches into five possible tracks called “specialties.” Approximately 12% of the total 180 credits are dedicated to a more in-depth coverage of a sub-field of engineering. The current specialties are Automotive Engineering Design, Medical Equipment Design, Manufacturing Product Design, Machine Design and Plastics Product Design. Each of these specialties culminates into a capstone design course where students are ideally expected to:

1) learn the design process as an "holistic" interdisciplinary activity, and 2) practice the "complete" design cycle from problem definition to prototype development.

Over the years, it was observed that neither of these expectations can be fully realized due to three challenges:

Tavakoli, M. S. (2000, June), Total Design Studio Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8779

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