A Senior Design Course That Simulates an Industrial Engineering Environment

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The Electrical Engineering capstone senior design course, like most, allows students to develop practical engineering skills. At the University of Tulsa, we have augmented this to simulate an industrial engineering design environment. The projects involve both the solution of technical problems and the development of interpersonal skills. The fall semester is a team approach with the same design for all teams. The spring semester is individual design. Plans must meet certain financial, scheduling, and performance constraints.
Team formation begins with student interviews. A team consists of three students and a professor who acts as mentor. To properly simulate an industrial engineering design environment, the process is conducted in a business atmosphere requiring professional attire and demeanor. The groups perform a feasibility study, select two possible designs and obtain mentor approval. In product development, the teams prepare a parts list and submit a requisition to the purchasing agent, the EE department secretary. After the parts have been received, a prototype of the design is built and tested to verify that it meets the design specifications. Then, a final design is assembled and packaged.
Halfway through the project, there is an organizational restructure and change in specifications. The next step is to market the product. At a Sales Fair, the company sells to customers consisting of faculty, staff, and graduate students.
In addition, the students are formally directed to people skills and financial planning. The texts are Rich Dad / Poor Dad, Great Connection, and Skill with People. To develop the softer engineering aspects, numerous reports and presentations are made by each student, individually and as part of teams. These include project and people skills areas. As part of the people development, the students evaluate their peers. All comments must be stated positively to encourage better performance.
Material for the course is placed on a website. Correspondence with the professor is by email. Because of the intensity of the class and the time restrictions for performance, this is the only effective tool to resolve problems quickly.

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