June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.1359.1 - 11.1359.13
Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity at Middle Tennessee State University
This paper discusses undergraduate research and creative activity at Middle Tennessee State University as implemented as a capstone course and design project. Four seniors from the electro-mechanical and mechanical disciplines applied and were partially funded to do undergraduate research. Their project was to build a boat to compete in the national Solar Splash competition. “Solar Splash is the World Championship of Solar/Electric boating. It is an international intercollegiate competition that takes place over five days”1. For their work, the seniors received credit for the capstone senior project class. As part of the work, the seniors led a team of freshman and sophomores. The benefit to this relationship: the seniors exercise their creativity and classroom knowledge while gaining valuable project management and decision making experience. The freshmen and sophomores also benefit as they work alongside the seniors; they get hands on experience as the engineering principles that they are being introduced to get put in to practice. When they become seniors themselves, they will be able to put all of that experience and classroom knowledge to build a new and improved solar boat, and lead a fresh batch of young engineering minds.
MTSU's Undergraduate Research Center promotes and champions change that institutionalizes a culture of inquiry and scholarship for all students and will coordinate the integration of research- based learning in undergraduate education, from the introductory experiences to the senior capstone experiences2. This culture of inquiry was evident during the design and construction of MTSU’s solar boat. The areas of research undertaken by the student team included: propeller design, hull design, drive train design, and designing the solar array. Hull weight, displacement of water, and aerodynamics all play critical roles in the success of the boat design. The boat must also be strong; this leads to researching suitable construction methods and materials. The student team must make decisions based on their research as to the most efficient design. This frequently resulted in the crafting of scaled models, computer modeling, and subsequent testing.
This project, with all its possible variables in design, placed a special emphasis on learning. It also brought out a competitive pride in the students to craft a solar boat capable of winning the Solar Splash competition.
Regulations are present that affect every aspect of the chosen design. Examples of regulations include buoyancy of craft, solar panel attachment, and drive train fastening. These along with all other regulations are available at www.solarsplash.com. The event consists of three major competitions. The endurance, sprint, and slalom make up the total event. The major portion of the competition is the endurance event. The watercraft must have excellent power management, an efficient hull design, and the appropriate drive train and propeller. These criteria must be met to have a successful craft. The power management consists of the proper batteries, motor(s), and
Foroudastan, S., & anderton, M. (2006, June), Undergraduate Research And Creative Activity At Middle Tennessee State University Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1031
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