Senior Design

Senior Design is the capstone undergraduate design project of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Seniors are able to apply their knowledge and showcase their abilities through the completion of challenging real-world design problems. The program is made up of a two-semester course sequence.

Students apply what they have learned in the classroom to develop a solution to a real-world issue, taking on roles as designers, testers and project managers. Employer sponsors, or local industry leaders, act as their clients and provide feedback throughout the project.

What will I do in Senior Design?

Senior Design students will divide into teams of three to six, research and select an issue, then design a project. Throughout the process, teams will work closely with a faculty advisor to ensure that their projects yield high-quality results. Meetings also take place periodically for information gathering, progress reviews and design presentations.

In Design II, student ideas are brought to life by prototype construction, testing, and final analysis. Senior Design culminates with Design Day, a college-wide event where teams from each engineering department present projects to engineering faculty members and industry leaders.

  • Picking a Team
    Working as a team is both enabling and stressful. It is best to consider the project needs in terms of skill sets. Aspects of the team are both specific to a particular task and also global. An example of global responsibilities is ensuring the timeline for completion is being maintained, financial records are being kept. The global tasks can be divided among team members or handled by the same individual. Writing reports and submitting them in a timely manner, as well as, ensuring that all team members are contributing to the project appropriately need to be considered. It is clear over the course of doing the degree, interpersonal, completion reliability, innovativeness, technical skills in machining or drawing are aspects you know about one another. Keep this in mind as you team up. Select team members that you know will contribute and provide assistance as well as creativity.
  • Finances
    The department provides each team with a fixed amount of funds that is determined a month into the Fall semester. The department is also actively seeking gifts from area industry. It is best that students work with in-kind donations with the company but for additional money to be donated to the department, ask companies to contact mechanical@unt.edu. Typically materials and supplies needed for projects are supported by the sponsoring industry.
  • Types of Projects
    A. Mechanical Engineering Capstone Course
    Senior Design offers the opportunity for a student to apply hands-on and academic skills to solving a problem. The experience is a microcosm of a real world experience. Both technical and soft skills are utilized and improved upon.

    First, the student selects a project. A student should consider the following when selecting a project: funding, the level of complexity, time availability, and the student’s academic interests. Projects are typically a current need with an existing solution that can be improved upon or there is a need that requires a new solution. In both cases innovation is important. Planning, creativity, analytical reasoning, and execution are vital.

    Projects are driven by the current employment of the ME student. The student can enlist current employers and develop a problem to be solved that requires designing a solution. The student and/or industry sponsor can fill out the project proposal form and contact Mechanical@unt.edu with the proposal.

    The student can select a project from the list of available projects. The list will be available from your Senior Design Instructor.

    The student can propose a new project and identify possible industrial sponsors. An official proposal must be presented for review. The proposal should contain the following information: a general overview of the project concept, testing plans, prototypes to be developed, team size, potential funding sources, and sponsors. Students can write to Mechanical@unt.edu to obtain help in connecting with industry.

    No matter what type of project is selected, the following should be considered:

    Who: will work on the team: Identify a team that is either working for the company or that company is agreeable to having on the team/premises. Also, consider how well your work ethic and dedication to the project will match with those of the other student team members.

    Facilities: that are needed for the project: implementation will drive WHERE the project is executed. Do you have a large enough space to work on and complete the project in question? Will you be performing tests in a location that will require special permission/paperwork? Will the exits to your location be large enough to accommodate your final prototype?

    Finances: Who will be providing your funds? Funds are available from the department but they may not cover all the needed expenses. The amount of funds provided by the department varies by year. Students selecting industry or faculty grant sponsored projects support the rest.

    B. Construction Engineering Technology Capstone Course

    The Senior Design capstone course is designed to pull together what the students have learned in their previous years and apply the knowledge to “real-life” construction projects. Students have the opportunity to appreciate how various aspects of a construction project come together. Hence, the course is a synergistic overview of the construction project process rather than an in-depth study of any one function or technical aspect.

    • The students work in teams and take a project from its starting point in the fall to a completed, professional-style presentation at the end of the Spring semester.

    • Topics covered include but are not limited to a feasibility study, building information modelling (BIM), value analysis/engineering, quality management, risk assessment, budgeting, scheduling, site logistics, safety planning/management, sustainable design/construction, and business plan.

    • Typically, there is no cost for the contractor/project sponsor. All the students need is a set of good blueprints/specifications – preferably PDF format – and a contact person in the sponsoring company who can answer questions.

    • The primary contact would need to be available for one meeting in the Fall semester, a few meetings in the Spring semester, a few phone calls from students, and attending the final presentation in April on Senior Design Day.

    • The best projects are ones that are just in the start-up phases so that the students will have an opportunity to work alongside the actual project and learn from the ongoing events.