In recent years there has been a big push to get students into the STEM fields. However, what seems to be lacking in this academic push is the hands on side of it. Engineering simply just isn’t about equations, but actually developing and building a physical product. Something you can touch and in most cases see work. The manufacturing field fits into STEM academics and is very important. With learning the importance of manufacturing, the Senior Design team at XXXX University's XXXX Department have decided that one of the best ways to expose new students to exciting Manufacturing Engineering fields from the high school through college level is to give students hands on experiences in this field that would make them interested in it. To do this they have developed a desktop size design of an injection molding machine for educational use. The student design team considered an injection molding machine as one of the best option for exposure since newly interested students immediately can see how a part is made with an easily operated machine that makes the product right away. During the fall quarter the student team proposed this idea, backing it up with research and market studies. The winter quarter had students finalizing the design, acquiring parts, and machining and assembling the frame. For the spring quarter, the machine was tested and put it in working order. Along with that, the students created a user manual and a lab manual to assist those using the injection molding machine. The machine envisioned in September became a working product and closer to educating students in STEM academics and the manufacturing field.
The significance of the methodology to be applied in this capstone course project is to combine theory and practice to prepare the students to become better problem solvers and obtain practical solutions to real life/simulated problems using a project based approach. Students in the Mechanical, Electrical, and Industrial fields along with many others can learn many new skills from multi-disciplinary projects such as the design and development of an Injection molding machine for educators. Such projects show students how to use different types of technology, and demonstrate how advanced technology can be used in an innovative application. Overall, many different fields of engineering can benefit from this application, enabling the development of skill and knowledge in many different engineering aspects and processes. This capstone design project stimulates the students’ interest in real-world product realization. As manufacturing laboratories are very expensive to develop, this project can also be adapted at other institutions that have limited funding to improve manufacturing process and prototyping facilities.
Expected student learning outcomes assessment in this capstone course was performed using written reports and oral presentations as well as an evaluation of each student’s contribution to the project. Oral presentations were assessed at the end of the first and last quarter and written reports at the end of each quarter. Both written reports and oral presentations were assessed by all faculty members and a number of outside assessors from regional industries. The assessment of individual student contributions was performed by the project advisor and co-advisor. The students’ performance was assessed using a set of performance indicators that are also used to assess the program’s student a-k outcomes (ABET). Each indicator is assessed according to a Likert-type scale and the results weighted to emphasize technical qualities of the work and scaled to produce a score from 0 to 100 in order to determine the students’ final grades.
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