Capstone Design I (MAE 4800) is offered fall and spring semesters. At the start of the semester students form groups of typically five to eight, and with faculty guidance they choose from among the potential projects submitted by sponsors. Over the next few weeks each team meets with its sponsor and collects information that when combined with independent research becomes the basis for a Project Plan. This plan outlines project requirements, methodologies to be employed, schedules, budgets, and any special results required. Going forward the plan may be modified to meet the needs of the sponsor or the educational requirements of the program.
Students are required to create and keep current a Project Notebook. In it they record their project ideas, information obtained, meeting notes, critical design and methodology ideas, and their decision processes.
Throughout this semester several Design Reviews gauge the status of each project. Students provide written reports and peer-critiqued oral presentations. Sponsors are highly encouraged to attend these reviews and provide guidance.
During the second semester in the Capstone Design II course (MAE 4810), the teams create, test, refine, and demonstrate engineering prototypes. At the end of the semester each team provides a Written Report and their final prototypes. The report summarizes the project, describes the alternate solutions considered, and details the selected final design. Each team also delivers an Oral Presentation of the completed work to its sponsor and faculty advisors.
Lectures during the two semesters focus on design issues and professional responsibility. Student participation is integral to the lecture periods since the questions asked and issues raised by students guide the course of discussion.