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Using a Systems Engineering Approach for Students to Design and Build Laboratory Equipment

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Capstone Design Projects and Courses

Tagged Divisions

Engineering Management, Systems Engineering, and Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.12.1 - 25.12.12



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Paper Authors


Tim L. Brower University of Colorado, Boulder

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Tim L. Brower is currently the Director of the CU, Boulder, and Colorado Mesa University Mechanical Engineering Partnership program. Before becoming the Director of the partnership three years ago, he was a professor and Chair of the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering and Technology Department at Oregon Institute of Technology. While in Oregon, he served as the Affiliate Director for Project Lead the Way - Oregon. In another life, he worked as an Aerospace Engineer with the Lockheed Martin Corporation in Denver, Colo. He is an active member of ASEE, ASME, and AIAA. Representing ASME, Brower has served as a Program Evaluator for ABET for the past eight years.

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Using a Systems Engineering Approach to Design a Laboratory ApparatusAbstractSystems Engineering is an interdisciplinary collaborative approach to derive, evolve andverify solutions which satisfy customer needs. It provides a focus that enables practicingengineers to integrate their specialties in the development of complex products andprocesses. Systems Engineering concepts are extremely important to industry. Ascompanies bring new products to market, a systems approach in product design isomnipresent throughout a broad cross-section of industries today.The merit of teaching a formal course dedicated to Systems Engineering in anundergraduate engineering curriculum can be debated. Some educators with an industrialbackground, in addition to practicing engineers have said that a true Systems Engineeringapproach can only come with years of industrial experience. However, engineeringstudents can be exposed to the concepts of Systems Engineering in mainstreamengineering classes throughout their undergraduate education. With this exposure toSystems Engineering at the university level, students are better prepared in the workforce.This paper describes one approach to introduce the concepts of Systems Engineering tostudents in a junior-level required thermo/fluids course through the student’s participationin a team-oriented class design project. The deliverable in this project was a 13-fthydropower apparatus that would be used as a permanent laboratory fixture for futureclasses. Students were divided into four teams of 2 – 3 students each. Each team wasresponsible for specific features of the apparatus. Interface documents, a preliminary andcritical design review, as well as a final integration document were required componentsof the project. The students came away with a broad understanding of a SystemsEngineering approach as documented in surveys administered pre and post course.

Brower, T. L. (2012, June), Using a Systems Engineering Approach for Students to Design and Build Laboratory Equipment Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20768

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