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Mechanical Engineering Course Description

 

Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design

Industry Partner Program for Senior Student Design

 
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ME 431/ME432  Mechanical Engineering Design:  Course Description

Purpose

To provide students with an open-ended problem-solving experience that requires them to synthesize what they have learned in individual courses through an actual industrial problem. In addition to the technical aspects of the projects, students groups of three-to-four experience working in teams toward a common goal and hone their communication skills through proposal and report writing and oral presentations (design reviews, final report). The participating companies obtain a fresh view on an issue within their organization from students and faculty working at the leading edge of the disciplines involved. Results may include a new product design, redesign of an existing product, recommendations for improvement of manufacturing systems, including production processes, quality control, inventory management, scheduling systems, and many other aspects of the design, manufacturing, and delivery of a product or service.

Project Management

Each project is assigned to a team of 3-4 senior students. Each team has a faculty advisor available. Teams make an initial visit to the company to learn more of the problem first-hand and meet company personnel who will be involved in the project. Subsequent visits occur for the purpose of collecting data, briefing the company on progress, and testing ideas. There is also considerable student/company interaction via email and telecommunication. During the semester-long projects, companies receive copies of the proposals the students must prepare, two status reports, and a detailed final report. Students make final presentations on their work before the start of final exams. Company members generally attend this one-day event that includes all of the projects and may attend other project presentations. Students are encouraged to make a final trip to the company to present their findings.

Benefits to the Students

  • Experience the importance of teamwork
  • Working on an open-ended problem
  • Working under time and budget constraints
  • Bringing multiple technologies to bear on problems
  • Develop oral and written communication skills

Benefits to Participating Companies

  • A fresh look at a problem or issue
  • Specific recommendations for product designs and production operations
  • A chance to address an issue sitting on the “back burner”
  • Access to student and faculty expertise in leading-edge technologies
  • A possible recruitment tool for new engineering hires
  • A window to the many resources of the University of Illinois
  • Working with some of the best engineering students in the country; our ME program is rated 4th in the nation

Impact of Project Results on Company

  • New product introduction enabling company to leap-frog competitors
  • Switch redesign eliminates the use of mercury and associated environmental implications
  • Company reduces assembly costs on major product resulting in savings of $250,000/year
  • Improved product design led to winning major sales contract against foreign competition
  • Improvements in quality program help company gain ISO Certification