June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.1285.1 - 14.1285.8
Two is Better Than One: Experiences Revitalizing a Capstone Design Competition Program
This paper examines the steps taken to revitalize the Baja SAE program at the United States Military Academy (West Point). Due to some significant issues with the 2007 Baja SAE team, West Point did not compete in the 2007 competition. Because Baja SAE is conducted as a senior capstone design project, the lack of competitiveness led the senior faculty advisor to examine the program and take steps to prevent future failures. A brief history of the West Point Baja SAE program, course framework, and steps taken to revitalize the program are discussed in detail.
In order to bolster students’ technical knowledge, the lessons of a related vehicle dynamics course were re-sequenced to better align with the steps taken to build the Baja vehicles. To heighten motivation for the project, early brainstorming sessions were conducted with limited success. The most successful change to the program was the creation of a second team for the 2008 season. The friendly competition between the two teams was a tremendous motivational tool that led to the successful completion of two vehicles for the 2008 competition. Individual feedback about the usefulness of the two team concept is discussed in detail.
The Baja SAE competition first started in 1976. In this competition, engineering students from around the world are challenged to design, build, and test a robust, single-person, off-road vehicle designed for the “weekend enthusiast”1. Today, all vehicles are designed around the same 10 hp gasoline engine donated by a prominent engine manufacturer, making the design aspects of the vehicle very important. Students compete in one of three domestic competitions: East, Mid-West, and West. A unique aspect of the Baja SAE East competition that West Point habitually attends is that the vehicle must also be amphibious.
Figure 1. One of two West Point Baja teams at the 2008 Baja East competition.
Novoselich, B., & Dillon, J. (2009, June), Two Is Better Than One: Experiences Revitalizing A Capstone Design Competition Program Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4519
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