Interdisciplinary Capstone Design

Course Description

This course provides students a culminating experience in applying the technical skills they have acquired in their engineering coursework to solve a design problem sponsored by an external customer. The students will begin with a problem statement provided by the customer, develop a specifications report, investigate similar existing technologies, and design their own solution. The course will also afford students practice in communicating their design process, both orally and in written form, to multiple audiences. Students will work in interdisciplinary teams to develop their design. The course includes lectures on the engineering design process, communication skills, and ethical and sustainability design considerations. Students will write accompanying documents and present oral progress reports in support of their final design proposal to the project sponsor and/or faculty advisors.

This course is the first part of a two-semester design sequence.

In the first semester, students will develop the design and present it to the customer. In the second semester, students will build and test the design or a prototype of the design.

Interdisciplinary Capstone Approval

Depending on the project chosen from year to year, it may be possible to use this interdisciplinary capstone in place of a departmental capstone. Students wishing to use ENGR 471ab to satisfy a departmental capstone requirement should check with their adviser before enrolling in ENGR 471ab.

For more information about the course and how to enroll (the course is D-clearance), email Prof. Mike Crowley or Prof. Elisa Warford.

Available Projects for Fall 2018 and Spring 2019

Ice Melting Probe (sponsored by Honeybee Robotics)

Background: Future missions to Europa, Enceladus, and Mars consider using melt probes to penetrate ice layers and reach sub-glacial lakes and oceans. Even terrestrial applications (Antarctic, Greenland) require deployment of sensors and data collection in ice and reaching sub-glacial lakes at 4 km depth.

Goal: Since energy (not power) is the main limiting parameter in space exploration, the goal would be to design and fabricate the most efficient melt probe possible. Students will work with the customer and faculty to: (1) perform thermal analysis to select heater power, (2) design and fabricate probe with independent heater elements, (3) design and fabricate probe with optimal cone shape and body shape, (4) design and fabricate control system for monitoring and optimizing heater temperature and power to maximize penetration rate. The minimum probe diameter and length should be 1 inch and 6 inch, respectively.

Test: The melt probe will be tested in a block of clear ice (at room temperature). Power and penetration time will be measured and energy computed.

Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (sponsored by JPL)

Background: A radio telescope built in a crater on the far side of the moon could  observe the universe in the 5-100m wavelength band that has hitherto been largely unexplored. This telescope would be the largest filled-aperture radio telescope in the solar system. The telescope could make tremendous scientific discoveries in the fields of cosmology and extra-solar planets.

Goal: Design and build a small-scale, proof-of-concept robotic mechanism to autonomously shape the lunar crater. A number of excavation and construction robots can be used for coarsely shaping the lunar crater. We would also like to investigate the dragline excavator concept. The objective is to get reliable time and power estimates for these robotic mechanisms.

Test: Build a scale model of the mechanism and shape a scale model of the crater to prove construction technique and verify estimates.

Published on October 25th, 2019

Last updated on October 28th, 2019