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EML 4551C/4552C: M.E. Senior Design Project

The 2017 senior class projects

Complete listing of 2000-2017 senior projects

Current Instructor: Dr. Nikhil Gupta
Project solicitation: Chiang Shih

This two-semester course constitutes the culmination of four years of engineering education where students will bring together their knowledge towards the completion of a 'design project'. Some of the skills acquired by students fall in the traditional areas of Mechanical Engineering: Thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid dynamics, solid mechanics, materials, 3-D CAD, etc. However, there also some skills, not necessarily technical in nature, that are required to have a successful career. These include: team-oriented mentality, problem solving, project planning and control, management and writing skills, etc.

It is assumed that a graduating engineer will have mastered all the skills within the traditional disciplines. The purpose of the Senior Design Project is to pull them all together and apply them towards the design and implementation of a 'product', and to afford the students an opportunity to experience team-based design under conditions that closely resemble those that will be encountered in industry. Students must develop and sharpen skills in team organization, time management, self-discipline, and technical writing, in order to be successful in this course. An important goal of this course is to expose students to a 'hands-on' experience in which they have to specify, design, and produce a full-system beginning from relatively ill-posed needs as stated by a 'customer'. This objective has to be accomplished while working as a team, and under time pressure.

Some of the 'non-technical' areas that the course is intended to cover include:

  • Team organization and motivation
  • Interpersonal skills applied within the design team and with the 'customer'
  • Technical writing (specifications, proposals, reports, online documents, etc.)
  • Engineering drawings
  • Presentation skills
  • Professionalism and ethics
  • Scheduling and budgenting
  • Personal time management
  • Project planning, work breakdown structure, and design record-keeping
  • Preparing a project scope
  • Identifying customer needs and needs assessment
  • Product synthesis based on customer needs
  • Concept generation and selection
  • Preparing an engineering specification
  • Preparing a design criteria document
  • Identifying system architecture
  • Problem formulation and application of engineering disciplines to design components
  • Ability to pursue design under conditions of shifting requirements
  • Interface identification and tracking
  • Consistency of purpose and project management skills

This course, although not necessarily demanding at an intellectual level, is extremely demanding in terms of hours needed to complete tasks, self-motivation, team dynamics, and time management skills. Students are graded based on a combination of personal and team performance goals. All teams must accomplish a significant portion of the project scope, and go through a 'board examination' at the end of the year, in order to fulfill the requirements to graduate. Those who pass this hurdle should be well prepared to embark on a successful career in engineering.


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