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Using The Sae Collegiate Design Series To Provide Research Opportunities For Undergraduates

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Innovations for the Senior Year of the ME Curriculum

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1573.1 - 12.1573.13



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Paper Authors

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Gregory Davis Kettering University


Craig Hoff Kettering University

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DR. CRAIG J. HOFF is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Kettering University. He teaches in the areas of thermal design, mechanical design, and automotive engineering. His research interests include fuel cell and hybrid electric vehicles. Dr. Hoff is the co-faculty advisor to Ketterins Student Chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), faculty advisor to the Kettering Formula SAE racecar team and serves on several committees for SAE International. He is a licensed professional engineering in the state of Michigan and has provided consulting to services to many companies, including ArvinMeritor, Magna, and Ford Motor Company.

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

Using the SAE Collegiate Design Series to Provide Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

Providing the students with a real world challenge can be used to motivate them to achieve a higher level of learning. However, these experiences can be difficult to design and conduct in a traditional classroom experience. Student design competitions can be used as the basis to provide undergraduate research opportunities for students and faculty. This provides students with the opportunity to participate in real-world research, while, providing faculty with additional applied research opportunities.

This paper provides case studies detailing how Society of Automotive Engineer (SAE) Collegiate Design Series competitions can be used to provide undergraduate engineering research. For example, we have used the competitions as a starting point for advanced studies in alternative fuels and occupant protection. Finally, the results of surveys of alumni who have participated in these research experiences is used to provide an assessment of the benefits of these types of activities.


It can be difficult for faculty to devote time in providing exceptional design and applied experiences to undergraduates while also trying to develop their research. Often faculty members find that these priorities compete for their time. This is particularly difficult for young faculty. Because of this, teaching is often limited to textbook experiences as these faculty spend time working to develop their research. This has led to a gap between what universities are teaching, and what engineers are expected to know in industry.1 Engineers in industry spend much time working on complex system integration, yet few engineering graduates understand this process.2 Reference 2 adds “the state of education in this country, especially in science, engineering and technology, has become a matter of increasing concern to many of us in American industry.”

In order to meet the needs of industry, Universities must place a renewed emphasis on teaching the practice of engineering. In order to teach the practice of engineering, students must be challenged to study the complex interactions of real engineering systems. Further, students must be exposed to professional standards and organizations, governmental regulations, team dynamics, and societal concerns. In short, students must be afforded the opportunity to practice engineering, learning how to apply the underlying scientific principles to the design of these systems. Working on applied research projects can meet these challenges.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) annually conducts a series of collegiate design competitions where students from Universities throughout the world compete. Many schools integrate these competitions into the capstone design course. Capstone projects are valuable in this regard, but taking these projects one step further to the point of doing applied research projects adds even more value for both students and faculty.

This situation can lead to a “win-win” experience for the students and the faculty involved. The students have the opportunity to participate in real research and can graduate from the university

Davis, G., & Hoff, C. (2007, June), Using The Sae Collegiate Design Series To Provide Research Opportunities For Undergraduates Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2994

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