The department believes that design differentiates engineering from other technical disciplines, and therefore plays a central role in the learning process. Through the Design Spine, each semester students get the opportunity to apply what they are learning in their more traditional engineering courses within the context of engineering design.In addition to reinforcing the foundational knowledge gained in the classroom, the robust background provided by the
encourages and develops creativity and innovation in the mechanical engineers in the Department. By their senior year students have already put their studies into practice while learning the unique languages of teammates across various disciplines and solving engineering problems of increasing complexity and significance.
As a result of the Design Spine, Senior Design at Stevens is not senior design in a traditional sense—it is a capstone activity where students are given an opportunity to tackle a significant and challenging real-world problem while applying the knowledge that they have gained through their undergraduate studies. When they commence their Senior Design projects, they choose substantive work that results in a product that benefits society. By the time they graduate, they are prepared to confidently address real-world engineering challenges.
The capstone senior design project (ME 423 and ME 424) involves teams, typically 2-6 students, working approximately one day per week over two academic semesters. Multi-disciplinary projects are encouraged.
Project ideas come from various sources, including industry-sponsored projects, national student competitions (Formula SAE, ASME), non-profit groups, students groups (Engineers Without Borders), faculty research, and student-generated ideas (engineered toy for children with Autism). The Senior Design course is divided into six phases (three each semester), where students progress from the Proposal/Project Definition through Conceptual Design, Engineering Analysis through Prototype Testing and Analysis. Senior Design culminates with the Senior Design Day, an Institute-wide event held at the end of the Spring semester where the Senior Design projects from all across campus are showcased in an open-house in front of students, faculty, alumni, industry and government representatives, and often the local media.
Mechanical Engineering Senior Design projects have received many internal and external awards and recognitions, including one team which developed a handheld spy chopper that was profiled in Popular Science in a story entitled "Generation Next: Radical Ideas from Today's Young Geniuses".
The Department recognizes the value of having senior projects sponsored and mentored in collaboration with an industrial partner. This provides meaningful projects of value to the industrial sponsor, and it imbues a professional orientation in the student team as they work towards providing the sponsor with deliverables in a manner that simulates the environment in which they will shortly be operating.
Suitable projects might include feasibility studies; design or redesign problems that are longer term and/or lower priority than the sponsor can tackle with their available personnel. This addresses the timing of Senior Design, which in both start time and project duration is not on the compressed scale of industrial activities. The goal would be to benefit the sponsor on a long-term basis rather than link the project to an immediate need. A Stevens faculty advisor will be assigned to guide the students in fulfilling the project requirements. Typically the sponsor will also provide an advisor.
Benefits to the Students
It is an opportunity to work at meeting a practical industrial need rather than pursuing a purely academic goal initiated by a faculty advisor
Industrially defined problems typically have a scope that favors solution by cross-disciplinary teams
Interacting with representatives of the sponsoring organization helps students develop greater professionalism and perspective.
Benefits to the Sponsors
Sponsors can obtain solutions to problems or explore concepts that they cannot themselves address, perhaps because of time or personnel constraints
Provides an opportunity to see potential hires in action and to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with these students
Builds sponsor-faculty ties that may provide benefits in research and/or consulting in areas of interest to the sponsor
Provides visibility for the sponsor on campus
Affords an opportunity to assist in the education of the next generation of engineers in areas of interest to the sponsor.
If interested in learning more about how a company can sponsor a Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Project, please contact
Professor Richard Berkof
Senior Design Projects
Unmanned vessel innovations will help to advance next-generation naval ships, and Stevens students are joining the international effort to realize the technology
Students design and build a formula racing car that can reach up to 140 mph.
Three students use their Senior Design project to create a toy for children with autism that will aid in children's development through play therapy.
The Senior Design team developed a specialized radio-controlled aircraft with high lift that is capable of short takeoff and landing (STOL)