A Just In Time Approach To Teaching Senior Design
The subject of this paper is the approach used to teach the senior design project course in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Michigan Technological University. The primary objective in the development of the required two semester senior design sequence was to insure a positive experience in mechanical engineering design while eliminating the procrastination that can be prevalent in long term projects.
The approach taken is the “just-in-time” introduction of lecture topics pertinent to the development of the students’ engineering design projects. Each of the major topics covered in class also involves an assignment and mini-report due within a short period of time after the related lectures.
For example, the first assignment includes providing the course instructor and the project advisors with information concerning how each team is organized along with project specifications and goals. The second assignment, which follows lectures concerning patents and sources of information, requires a project “initial” background information and patent search report. Complete lists of the assignments and associated lecture topics are included in the paper.
One consequence of having a sequence of mini-reports completed during the semester, besides forcing the students to systematically make progress, is that the job of writing a final report is a much easier task.
The student teams are able to update and edit their mini-reports into a comprehensive and complete final report without having to spend inordinate amounts of time on the task. Students have responded very favorably to the “just in time” organization of the senior design course.
The system used in the course resulted in the minimization of procrastination problems and made the completion of good quality professional design reports a much less daunting task. A major result of the course organization is also the fact that the material presented in class is immediately relevant to the project work of the students.
The paper includes details of how the first semester senior design project course was conducted, as well as examples of the types of design projects included in the course. Additional information is provided concerning the second semester course, which involves topics such as an introduction to design optimization, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis, and the design and implementation of engineering experiments as related to the testing of design prototypes.
The final results of the two-semester senior design sequence includes the development of working prototypes, the completion of professional quality written and oral reports, and the production of an informative and attractive poster by each team. Page 857.1 Proceedings of the 2003 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2003, American Society for Engineering Education Introduction Michigan Technological University changed from a quarter based system to semesters effective the fall of 2000.
Prior to making the change a considerable amount of work went into planning and developing curricula in the different colleges and departments across campus.
During this period in the late twentieth century, 1998 and 1999, the Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (ME-EM) Department reviewed the mechanical engineering programs at more than twenty well known universities across the country and held numerous meetings to discuss proposed changes in the curriculum.
Meetings were also held with students to provide information concerning the transitions to semesters for students who were approaching their senior year. At one such meeting a third year mechanical engineering student expressed his concerns regarding the senior design course in a 15 week semester versus a 10 week quarter.
The student’s main point was that many senior design students he knew procrastinated and did most of their work at the last minute near the end of the quarter. He wondered what the department would do to prevent this from becoming an even more serious problem in the longer semesters.
As a result, at least in part, to this student’s concerns much thought was put into developing an approach to senior design that would minimize procrastination while encouraging students to do the technical work necessary for the successful completion of challenging senior engineering design projects.
This paper presents information concerning the senior design project course organization and delivery with special emphasis on the minireport assignments due at specific times during the semester. While considering the change from the quarter system to semesters the ME-EM Department decided to place considerably more emphasis on design in the new curriculum. Under quarters the department required that all ME students complete a one quarter three credit senior design project course.
The new requirement approved by the faculty requires that all students satisfactorily complete a two-semester sequence of three credit courses, MEEM4900 and MEEM4910. This new commitment to design was based on an interest in providing students with a significant experience in engineering design from problem definition and concept development to the construction and testing of prototypes.
It was also based on the desire to provide the majority of the mechanical engineering students with the opportunity to work on meaningful industrially sponsored projects for which less than two semesters of time would be inadequate.
Previous articleDesigning Across The Curriculum: Linking Sophomores To Mechanical Engineering
INSTRUCTIONS AFTER PAYMENT
- 1.Your Full name
- 2. Your Active Email Address
- 3. Your Phone Number
- 4. Amount Paid
- 5. Project Topic
- 6. Location you made payment from