Design oriented “capstone” courses for senior students have enjoyed renewed popularity in recent years. However, incorporating design projects as part of lower level laboratory courses is not as widely practiced. This paper discusses the authors’ experience using design projects in four freshman/sophomore level mechanical engineering technology courses. In a mechanics of materials course, the students have been required to design a structure for an overhead granary, and a device to upright a large electrical transformer. In a fluid power course, students have been required to size and select components and create a schematic for a small machine. In a machine elements course, students have designed a commercial lawn mower and a ribbon printing machine.

Students in a production drawing class have designed and produced a set of working drawings for a stamping die, and have worked with a machine elements class as the documentation personnel on a concurrent engineering project. The projects all require problem definition, data research and collection, analysis of the required components, minimum sizing verses commercially available parts, and a schematic or full set of drawings. The desired outcomes are an increased level of interest, involvement, and to help the students make the transition between theory and practice.

Graduates of technology programs are involved in design after either an associate degree or a bachelors degree. These graduates will either assist engineers in the design process; or, be responsible for their own designs. The technologist must understand how the theory is applied to the solution of design problems. Design projects are utilized as a means of applying the theory learned in the courses and exposing the students to real life problem solving.

This paper will discuss some of the above named projects; how they are presented, how the students are involved, and the results. Some of the lessons learned will be presented. Reports are a major part of all the design projects. This paper will discuss how progress and final reports are utilized in these projects.

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