The design of products and processes is an important area in engineering. Students in engineering schools learn fundamental principles in their courses but often lack an opportunity to apply these methods to real-world problems until their senior year. This article describes important elements that should be incorporated into a senior capstone design course. It includes a description of the general principles used in engineering design and a discussion of why students often have difficulty with application and revert to trial and error methods. The structure of a properly designed capstone course is dissected and its individual components are evaluated. Major components include assessing resources, identifying projects, establishing teams, understanding requirements, developing conceptual designs, creating detailed designs, building prototypes, testing performance, and final presentations. In addition to the course design, team management and effective mentoring are critical to success. This article includes suggested guidelines and tips for effective design team leadership, attention to detail, investment of time, and managing project scope. Furthermore, the importance of understanding business culture, displaying professionalism, and considerations of different types of senior projects is discussed. Through a well-designed course and proper mentoring, students will learn to apply their engineering skills and gain basic business knowledge that will prepare them for entry-level positions in industry.
Structure and Management of an Engineering Senior Design Course
University of Kansas,
Lawrence, KS 66045
Manuscript received November 2, 2015; final manuscript received May 1, 2016; published online June 7, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Kristen Billiar.
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Tanaka, M. L., and Fischer, K. J. (June 7, 2016). "Structure and Management of an Engineering Senior Design Course." ASME. J Biomech Eng. July 2016; 138(7): 070802. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4033583
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