The Senior Design Project is a required component of the Mechanical Engineering Degree at UMass Dartmouth. In their Senior year students split into groups of two or three and work on projects of their own choosing. Every year local companies approach our department with project suggestions, and each group of students can choose one of those projects or come up with a project on their own.
The students also choose a faculty member to serve as the advisor for the project. Unlike a lecture course, the faculty advisor for the design project does not instruct. He or she acts as a resource for the students: that is he or she tries to answer the students' questions. The advisor also serves as a motivator to encourage students to work diligently, but ultimately the success or failure of the project lies wholly with the students.
Almost all of our Senior Design Project designs and final presentations have been excellent. Every year the department holds a competition in which students present their projects to a panel of judges who are usually members of local industry. The winning project goes on to compete against design project teams from universities in the region, and if they win there, which they often do, they go on to compete in the New England Regional Competition.
The capstone design project is structured as described in the following two senior level courses.
MNE 497 two credits - Mechanical Engineering Design Project I
Prerequisite: MNE 391
Professional and management activities of project engineering, first of a two-course sequence. Topics covered include engineering ethics, selection of senior design project, and initial product design leading to a written and oral presentation of project proposal. Project will be completed in MNE 498, but work done in this course is evaluated and a course grade is given.
MNE 498 two credits - Mechanical Engineering Design Project II
Prerequisite: MNE 497
Application of knowledge gained in various courses to the synthesis, analysis and design of a system in a particular field of interest selected by the student. This is the second of a two-course sequence. Design project proposed in MNE 497 will be completed, and a final report and oral presentation will be made before a panel of judges.