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Undergraduate Capstone Design: Inductively Enhanced

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Capstone Courses and Design Education

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1562.1 - 22.1562.11



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Paper Authors


Bobby G. Crawford U.S. Military Academy

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Bobby Grant Crawford is a Colonel in the United States Army and the Director of the Mechanical Engineering Program in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. He graduated from West Point with a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1985. He holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Aerospace Engineering, is a Senior Army Aviator in fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and is a licensed Professional Engineer.

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Undergraduate Capstone Design: Inductively EnhancedAbstractThe Department of XXXXXXXXXXX at XXXXXXXX requires its graduates to complete anintegrative, year-long capstone design during their senior year. One of the capstone projectsavailable to the mechanical engineering students in the department’s aerospace sub-disciplinerequires the design, construction, testing, and demonstration of a small, highly autonomousUninhabited Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for a Department of Defense client. This particular projectwas added to the list of available capstone options in the fall of 2005.This paper briefly describes the motivation behind the addition of the UAV capstone designoption, resources that were required to start the program, and selected budget data collectedduring the second and third years of the capstone design. Teams in the first year of the projectwere limited to a budget of $9,000 each and experienced mixed results during final flightdemonstrations. Second year budgets were increased to $12,000 for each team based on feedbackfrom the first-year experience. Performance at flight demonstrations was markedly improved inthe second year.Lessons learned from the first two years were used to significantly modify the program in thethird and subsequent years. Students began the design with very little practical, hands-onexperience with small aircraft and the associated subsystems. Faculty members spent asignificant amount of time researching learning methods and discussing potential modificationsto the project structure that would result in a rapid acquisition of foundational knowledge by thestudents.In particular, the third year of the program was modified to incorporate an inductive learningexperience as part of the project. Students began by building and testing an off-the-shelf,Remotely-Controlled (R/C) airplane; modifying it to operate with an off-the-shelf autopilot; andconducting bench and flight testing of the aircraft and its components. The intent of this rapid,three week experience was to develop a cognitive schema that the students could draw upon asthey executed the design process and created their original UAVs. This approach, its benefits,and lessons learned are detailed.Bibliography1. Prince, M.J. and R.M. Felder, “Inductive Teaching and Learning Methods: Definitions, Comparisons, andResearch Bases,” Journal of Engineering Education, April 2006, pp 123-138.2. Felder, R.M. and L. Silverman, “Learning and Teaching Styles In Engineering Education,” Journal ofEngineering Education, 1988.3. Felder, R.M., “How Students Learn: Adapting Teaching Styles to Learning Styles,” Frontiers in EducationConference Proceedings, 1988, pp. 489-493.4. Felder, R.M., “Active-Inductive-Cooperative Learning: An Instructional Modelfor Chemistry?,” Journal of Chemical Education, Volume 73, Number 9, September 1996, pp. 832-836.5. Felder, R.M. and R. Brent, “Designing and Teaching Courses to Satisfythe ABET Engineering Criteria,” Journal of Engineering Education, 2003, pp. 7-25.6. Felder, R.M. and J. Spurlin, “Applications, Reliability and Validity of the Index of Learning Styles,”International Journal of Engineering Education, Volume 21, Number 1, 2005, pp. 103-112.7. Felder, R.M., “Reaching the Second Tier: Learning and Teaching Styles in College Science Education,” Journalof College Science Teaching, 1993, pp. 286-290.

Crawford, B. G. (2011, June), Undergraduate Capstone Design: Inductively Enhanced Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18856

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