Industrially sourced design projects

2006-05-08T11:03:22Z (GMT) by D.E.S. Middleton
The paper describes the experiences of incorporating industrially sourced design projects in an undergraduate engineering programme. Recent experience has highlighted the importance placed on industrial relevance in engineering degree programmes. Industrially sourced projects at the pre-University stage are referred to but the main thrust of this paper is directed at experiences with the third year design course in a four year Mechanical Engineering BEng programme. The aim of the paper is to provide an awareness of the characteristics of the project work arising from industrially sourced project work. These projects are a useful addition to the set piece projects which are focused on the formal course content. The challenges and experiences encountered in supervising industrially sourced projects presented here will be of value to course lecturers who are working in this exciting area and will also point the way to those seeking involvement in this type of project. Project realisation was reported in DATER 94 and here project realism is presented as an additional important component in stimulating the interest and enthusiasm of the students. Pre-existing staff contact with industry, e.g. arising from consultancy , is of benefit if this type of venture is to be successful. An important role of the supervisor is to interpret the industrial problem and present it in a tractable form for student consumption. Examples of projects are described: drilling machine design, and automatic dispensing of documents. Careful administration of the project is necessary to ensure provision of adequate technical information and to get the best out of group working. The experience has been found to be stimulating and motivating for staff and students and better work results than from working solely on focused academic exercises.