Design, build and test: An approach for a capstone design course in engineering technology
Undergraduate engineering technology students traditionally take a capstone or senior design course during their last semester which involves the design of an engineering system that has a real application. Senior design projects usually focus on specific design aspects including equipment sizing, cost analysis, and material selection; however, many senior design courses do not give students the opportunity to apply hands-on skills or produce a real physical prototype. Furthermore, few engineering technology courses provide the opportunity to approach practical design and production problems in a comprehensive and holistic manner. There is a real need to expose students to a variety of design considerations as well as production, construction, or testing activities so that they may grasp fully the importance of the design process. Students also should learn to take into consideration constraints such as time, cost, and space during the design process. In this paper, a case study is presented in which a group of senior design students was able to design, build, and test a passive cooling system for residential, commercial, and industrial flat roofs. First, the students created a number of designs for a passive cooling system taking into consideration material properties, cost, manufacturability, and proven passive cooling concepts. The students then evaluated each of the design options and fabricated only those with the best overall design attributes. All prototypes were tested using a lab-scale experimental set up capable of measuring the thermal performance of each specimen. The students also provided a thorough discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of each prototype, and recommended a course of action for the potential commercialization of the proposed technology. The case study illustrates that students can learn to design, build and test a simple system taking into account several objectives and attributes in a comprehensive manner. This particular experience indicates that future capstone design courses should regularly consider prototype construction and testing as essential components of the entire design process. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2008.
author list (cited authors)
Alvarado, J., Price, A., & Johnson, M.
complete list of authors
Alvarado, J||Price, A||Johnson, M