An Engineer’s Best & Worst Nightmare: Senior Design
What happens when you give a group of last-year engineering students a minimal budget, nine months and an innovative, brand new engineering concept to be executed? Senior design, that’s what.
Completing a Capstone Project
If you decide to major in any engineering field or computer science, you are expected to complete a capstone project by the end of your senior year. All of the programs for each major differ when you get assigned to your project. But overall, every team goes through the same planning, designing and executing process in order to have a top-of-the-line deliverable that you can show off during the Northrop Grumman Engineering and Science Student Design Showcase in the spring. And hopefully, score a pretty sweet job out of it.
As students, after sitting through three years of semesters packed with classes, we get the chance to apply all of our new knowledge to a hands-on project in senior design. These projects allow students to prove that what they have learned has real-life applications, and that we know how to fulfill a customer’s needs and find a solution when given a problem.
Florida Tech has been known to turn out some amazing senior design projects in the past, and remains committed to improve past projects as the years go by. Some of the past projects include the Formula SAE project, where students have to engineer, design and build a formula-style race car from scratch that competes in the annual Formula SAE Competition. Another project that Florida Tech has been a part of has been the NASA Robotic Mining Competition (formally known as Lunabotics). Here, students must design, build and engineer a mining robot that will be able to collect lunar regolith in space-like environments. Florida Tech has competed in this competition for the past two years, and some of my friends are in the senior design team for this year’s robot.
Students take an innovative leap to be the first
In addition to past projects, Florida Tech also gets brand-new projects every year, where students take an innovative leap to be the first to create something with no past design to go off of. For example, this year is the first year which FIT Motorsports has a drag car team where students take an older car, and will engineer a drag racing car out of it.
Also, this is the first year in which Florida Tech will compete in the Mars Society’s University Rover Challenge. That’s my senior design project this year. My team members and I have to make a Mars Rover that will perform and be judged on a series of tasks, such as the astronaut assistance task or tool servicing.
Although it is stressful to have so much work in such a short amount of time while balancing a regular course load for the semester, students also do get plenty of guidance and support from the project advisors. Professor Morkos has been the head of the mechanical senior design project for some time, and he works alongside Professor Reichard, who takes over all of the multidisciplinary projects. The other departments also have their team advisors who are there to help the students when things go haywire, as they tend to do.
Be sure to keep reading these articles, Panthers, as I spotlight all of the capstone projects that the mechanical engineers will be partaking in this year along with showing constant progress of my team’s project. Follow me on my journey of making the coolest, most efficient Mars Rover (which will also sport FIT’s lovely crimson and gray colors).