Published in 118th ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings: Vancouver, B.C., June 26, 2011.
At many universities, senior undergraduate mechanical engineers work in teams on industry-sponsored capstone design projects. These projects provide an excellent opportunity for students to synthesize their courses, work with the more realistic deadlines and expectations of industry, and interact with company representatives. It also give industrial partners a chance to become educational partners with the university, preview potential new hires, and complete some noncritical projects at low cost.
This paper presents a case study of a successful six-year partnership between the Automotive Bumper Project committee of the American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI) and a mechanical engineering department. The AISI Bumper Project has sponsored seven senior capstone design projects and three master’s projects, providing excellent educational opportunities for twenty-five students. The projects ranged from specific vehicle bumper designs to building and testing a high-energy pendulum impact tester.
The university benefited from this long-term relationship by gaining relevant student projects, supporting graduate students, and retaining a connection with industry. The industry consortium benefited by encouraging the study of topics of interest (steel design, impact analysis) at the undergraduate level, receiving ‘outside-the-box’ design concepts, and learning how bumpers may be affected by future trends. The costs on both sides were kept low, enabling most of the funds to go directly toward hardware so the students could build and test their designs.
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