The Technology Leaders section of ENGR 1620 provides an overview of the engineering profession and the disciplines and functions within engineering. Introduces students to engineering design, and the role of creativity in the solution of open-ended (design) problems. The conceptual understanding and skills needed to apply the engineering method are integrated into a significant, hands-on, case study project. This project, which is intended to be both fun and challenging, focuses on a realistic problem, requiring a balance of engineering analysis and the economic, cultural, political and other considerations needed to achieve a successful solution. In addition to the fundamental role of engineering analysis and optimization, students also develop computer skills using spreadsheet and math solver applications and apply these to engineering problem solving.
Students are introduced to several engineering subjects in electrical, computer, mechanical, and systems engineering and build
integrated systems that combine topics from multiple disciplines. Primarily hands-on, the course develops practical knowledge of
sensor circuits, amplification circuits, dynamic systems, rapid prototyping, microcontrollers, and data storage. Projects are
designed to draw parallels between engineering subjects (e.g., mechanical and electrical dynamic systems) and simulation is used
to aid the design process.
Presents the synergistic integration of mechanical engineering with electronics and computer control in the design of industrial products and processes. Surveys basic electronics, electromechanical actuators, analog and digital signals, sensors, basic control algorithms, and microcontrol programming.
In this project-based course, students synthesize domain-specific knowledge from several engineering disciplines to produce integrated systems. Problems are attacked with a top-down approach, and substantial focus is put on the interactions and interfaces between system components. Students get hands-on experience with prototyping, design evaluation, and iterative design.
What is a Capstone?
A capstone is a project taken on by engineers at the university during their fourth year. These projects are usually sponsored by an outside client and provide a final integrated, real-world, hands-on experience relating to students' fields of study.
The Systems and Information Engineering Department (SIE) helped pioneer capstone projects in the United States and has a strong record of externally-supported capstone projects dating back to the late 1980's. SIE alumni invariably site the capstone as the most important part of their undergraduate education.
A great thing about the TLP is that the SIE capstone model is becoming interdisciplinary by including students in the TLP from electrical and computer engineering.
What sort of project is part of TLP capstone?
The Technology Leaders program focuses on preparing engineers to solve multilevel problems by using both technology-focused and systems level thinking. This is done through group projects that include the involvement of systems, electrical, and computer engineers, and require teamwork where all three expertise areas are necessary. The projects will resemble that of the professional setting where people of many backgrounds come together to solve problems.
How will the capstone work?
Projects will be solicited and arrange by faculty before each fall semester starts. TLP students from both SIE and ECE will vote on which projects they want to work and teams will be formed based on their preferences and the disciplinary needs of the projects. Each project will be mentored by an ECE or SIE faculty member, but all TLP faculty (from both ECE and SIE) will be available to provide input to the teams as necessary.
How will this fit in with my thesis?
Most students use the capstone as part of your thesis. You can use your collaboratively authored capstone report as your "Technical Report" part of your thesis. You will write your "STS Research Paper," in which you explore a social, and/or ethical issue related to your capstone project, as part of STS 4020.
What are examples of capstone projects?
The TLP will run its first capstone projects in the 2011-12 academic year, so we don't have any example as of now.
A project from SYS 2001 in Fall 2009 could give you an idea, though. In that course, some TLP members participated in finding a solution to a current issue regarding the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). VDOT is currently in a financial crisis, and the issue was to develop a revenue system to resolve the current issue. This problem was analyzed both technologically and systematically to determine the most feasible solution. Many of the solutions centered on developing a system to track how many miles each vehicle travels and then charging a "user fee" per mile - instead of the current gas tax.
Teams explored solutions ranging from what highly technological (e.g., existing on-board computers that wirelessly send information to check points about mileage, RFID tags that would track where vehicles traveled and estimate the mileage traveled, tracking mileage based on a cellular device, GPS-tracking on each vehicle) to the much simpler "write down your mileage on your tax return each year." A huge part of the team's tasks was determining how to evaluate the solutions (on which metrics do they compare the metrics, e.g., privacy of information, accuracy of data collection, cost of implementation, etc.) and then actually evaluating the alternative solutions, many of which had never been implemented, and recommending a system to their client, VDOT.
The TLP Learning Community (the TLC) meets every other week and has many aims. More specifically, we use the TLC to build a sense of identity and community among the TLP students, develop leadership skills, learn about electrical and computer systems integration in industry, and focus on career-oriented issues.
TLC meetings have included speakers from TLP industry partners, mentoring by upperclassmen, faculty speakers focusing on integrating topics from multiple TLP courses, field trips, and teambuilding activities. See the current schedule of meeting topics on the calendar.
Logistically, the TLC is a 0.5 credit class that TLP students take every semester starting in their second year. See more about how it fits into the curriclum.
First-year students are acquainted with both the fun and challenge of real-world engineering practice through inter-disciplinary design and problem-solving.
Students experience hands-on learning through circuit design and rapid prototyping of dynamic mechanical and electrical systems.
Presents the synergistic integration of mechanical engineering with electronics and computer controls in the design of real-world industrial products and processes.
Design Lab in which students plan and execute their own projects, integrating their experiences in all fields of electrical, mechanical, computer, and systems engineering.
TLP students work on Capstone projects that span across different engineering disciplines, and collaborate with students in different majors.
Sessions where students develop community within the program, hear from industry speakers, and learn how to become a leader for teams with diverse engineering backgrounds.