Senior design projects (also known as "capstone" projects) are the centerpiece of the ME curriculum's professional component, allowing students to be involved in interesting, real-world activities. Each senior is required to complete this course. Capstone projects are each advised by a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member who works with the teams.
Without exception, all ME 495 projects must be team efforts. Teams must consist of between three and five students.
Students can pursue their varied technical and professional interests through a selection of projects that include:
- Industry-sponsored projects
- Student-inspired projects
- Faculty-guided projects
Capstone design projects allow students to experience the rigor and structure of a full-cycle design, including:
- Problem definition
- Benchmark studies
- Concept generation and feasibility study
- Engineering design analyses
- Prototype fabrication and testing
Through the capstone courses, students learn to fully define a design problem. This includes not only a statement of the project deliverables and objectives in the layman's or client's terms, but also a full definition of the agreed upon functional requirements and constraints (quantified). In the case of the competition-based projects, the problem definition is based on the detailed rules and guidelines of the competition.
All of the capstone projects draw upon at least several fundamental engineering science areas and involve significant quantitative analysis often in the form of numerical simulation, typically preceded by approximate analytical solutions. Industry-inspired projects are carefully selected on the basis of the required fundamental engineering science areas and also to align with the core expertise of the faculty adviser.
All projects must include a written report. Although the form of the report may vary according to the nature and requirements of the individual project, all final reports must contain the following (or equivalent) sections:
- Risk and liability
- Ethical issues
- Impact on society
- Impact on the environment
- Cost and engineering economics
Industry Capstone Program
Industry-sponsored senior design projects provide benefits for both students and sponsoring organizations. Students gain valuable experience from working within real-world constraints, while sponsoring organizations reap the innovations and insights provided by the project deliverables.