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Academics | Administration | Admissions | A-Z Index | Directories

Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering


EMEC489 Mechanical Engineering


ETME489 Mechanical Engineering Technology


Capstone 1

  Fall Semester 2013

ME Program

EMEC 489

F,S 2 cr. LEC 1 RCT 1
PREREQUISITE: EGEN 310. EMEC majors only.
COREQUISITE: Concurrent enrollment in or prior completion of EMEC 326, and EMEC 342, EMEC 321, EMEC 360, EMEC 445.
-- Senior capstone design experience in Mechanical Engineering. Students, under the guidance of a faculty supervisor, solve real-world design problems.

MET Program

ETME 489

F, S 2 cr. LEC 1 RCT 1.
PREREQUISITE: ETME 303, ETME 310, ETME 311, ETME 341, EGEN 310, for MET majors only.
-- Senior capstone design experience in Mechanical Engineering Technology. Students, under the guidance of a faculty supervisor, solve real-world design problems.

TIME & LOCATION:     Tuesday 3:10-5:00 PM,  304 Lewis Hall


Mr. Robb Larson (MET)
Associate Professor, M&IE
Dr. David Miller (ME)
Associate Professor, M&IE
994-6420 994-6285
306B Roberts Hall 306C Roberts Hall

Useful Links:

Homework assignments and Due Dates  
Project descriptions & Group Assignments
Capstone Report Format and Guidelines  
Executive Summary Format
Weekly Memo Word Template 
MSU Student Code of Conduct and Behavior Expectations
Design Project flowchart
MIE Writing Outcomes Checklist 
Engineering Communications TOOLKIT
     Machine/Welding Shop LINKS:
Shop Safety Rules
Chemical and Material Hazard Awareness
Shop Schedule Fall 2013
Machine Shop Refresher Course Training Schedule


General Information:
The capstone sequence courses in Mechanical Engineering (EMEC489 and EMEC499 ) and in Mechanical Engineering Technology (ETME489 and ETME499) provide the culminating experience in undergraduate education for these two programs. In these shared courses, students to draw upon previous coursework to solve complex, real world design  problems associated with an assigned group project. Projects include the challenges of project management, optimizing limited resources,  meeting strict schedules and working productively within a team structure - all while dealing with mechanical systems, designs, and components representative of those encountered in the industry. The first semester course in each program (EMEC489 and ETME489) focuses on engineering design and project planning, while during the second semester the emphasis is on prototype fabrication & assembly, and testing the design. Complete written engineering reports are prepared in a standard format, and formal oral presentations are important course elements.   
Course Learning Outcomes / Expected Performance Criteria
  • Understand and properly apply the engineering design process to a real-world project provided by an industrial sponsor, including interpretation of customer needs, performing appropriate background research, generating requirements and specifications, identifying and accommodating all system interfaces, exploring alternative solutions, and selecting the optimum solution.
  • Choose and perform appropriate analysis to validate designs
  • Create computer-generated layouts, models, detail and assembly drawings
  • Design components considering available and appropriate manufacturing techniques
  • Anticipate problems utilizing failure modes analysis methods, and use the results to design failsafe systems
  • Utilize industry-standard project management methodology including the use of task lists, gantt charts, critical path methods, electronic communication methodologies, etc. to meet deadlines and enable timely completion of project tasks
  • Interact with sponsors, university faculty, suppliers and industry representatives, and with student peers in a professional and respectful manner
  • Prepare and present professional-quality memos, oral reports, and written reports
  • Be familiar with the design resources and journals available in order to maintain currency with new technology and apply new methods and techniques to design processes and products in industry.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work cooperatively and interactively with others in a team environment to complete a sponsored design project.
  • Demonstrate/Improve ability to utilize the computer to solve engineering problems
  • Demonstrate/Improve ability to make engineering judgments
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the implications of engineering issues and engineering decisions including ethical, societal, environmental considerations
No new textbook is specified for purchase, but most students will utilize several texts from previous classes - including a design text (e.g. Mott, Spotts, Shigley, etc.), a Technical Drawing book, a Materials Science text, and textbooks from other engineering courses such as Thermodynamics, Fluids, Heat transfer, Mechanics of Materials, and Instrumentation depending upon the project. Many students will also refer to the user's guides or operations manuals for various software packages like LabVIEW, Mathcad, Matlab, Excel, Pro-Engineer, Solidworks, and Working Model. Your instructor or group faculty advisor may recommend additional resources.
The weekly lecture is used to review the design process, discuss the identification & use of engineering resources,  work on scheduling & project management tools, configuration control, the role of analysis in design, presentation methods, report writing, and other pertinent topics. The lecture also provides a venue for occasional guest lecturers from industry to present important career material to the class. Attendance is expected, and many important course details or assignments will be covered only during the lecture period.
Design Groups:
Students are placed in design groups by the instructor during the first week of class. Group size is typically 3 or 4  students, although larger or smaller groups are sometimes warranted for certain projects. An integral part of the learning experience is to deal with the group dynamics issues that often arise within a group project setting.   In the MIE department we strive to create interdisciplinary groups wherever possible, and multi-disciplinary design groups that combine ME's and MET's are the norm. Several groups will also include members from EE, ECE, CS, and Physics programs. Informal interactions with students and faculty from other disciplines are common and encouraged.
Project Sponsors, Faculty Supervision:
Most Projects are sponsored by a business or individual, and each group will be assigned a Primary Faculty Supervisor. All Capstone group members must coordinate with their assigned group supervisor and project sponsor as soon as possible after the projects are assigned.

Every group is required to meet with their primary faculty supervisor weekly. Weekly design group "consultation" meetings with their advisor usually last for about 30 minutes to an hour, depending upon topics discussed. Students discuss the status of their project including results accomplished during the previous week and their plans for the coming week. These items are to be summarized in a weekly progress memo which is to be handed to the supervisor at the beginning of each meeting.  The memo initiates discussions and provides a written record of progress and status.

The supervisor's responsibility is to help direct the efforts of the design team, not to solve the problem for them. The supervisor may suggest alternative approaches to the solution, sources of information the team may have overlooked, strategies for successful completion of the project, etc. Consultation meetings should clarify group member tasks; every team member should understand their responsibility for conducting individual activities during the coming week. Professionalism is expected at all times during the relatively informal consultation meetings: Exemplary preparation, attitude, promptness, thoroughness, and quality of work are expected. Attendance at consultation meetings is mandatory.

Reporting Requirements:

1. Project Management Plan
The project management plan is formal, written documentation of the scheme your group will use to ensure timely completion and submission of deliverables, as defined in the section below. Project Management Plans will be due during the fourth week of class.

2. Preliminary Design Review Presentation::
Each group will deliver an interim status report to the class. This "Preliminary Design Review" will consist of a relatively informal presentation and information exchange with class members, with an emphasis on peer scrutiny and feedback on project direction, status and goals. 

3. Critical Design Review Presentation:
Each group will prepare and deliver a professional-quality final oral presentation. Attendees at the final oral presentation will include members of the ME and MET capstone classes, the instructors, M&IE faculty advisors, and any other interested individuals. 

4.Written Report:
Each design team will prepare one professional-quality written report documenting this semester. Draft chapters are collected throughout the semester. The compiled written formal report is due during the last week of class (before finals week.) 

The "Preliminary Design Review" and "Final Design Review" sessions give group members the opportunity to develop presentation skills that will be useful in their careers.  Computer-projected visuals are the norm: Plan on using Microsoft Powerpoint. The demonstration of a simple working prototype is encouraged at the Final Design Review.


For each design team, a student “group chair” position will be assigned to an individual, on a rotating basis. This Leader is responsible for keeping each project moving forward and keeping  all group members on-task. The position of group leader will be rotated so that each group member ‘runs the show’ for 2-4 weeks during semester. Group chairman responsibilities include

     Generate and maintain an accurate and up-to-date Gantt chart (schedule) and associated Network diagram (to map interdependencies.)

         Ensure that all deliverables are submitted on-time.

o   Weekly status memos

o   Report sections

         Maintain communications with sponsor

         After “term” expires, get new leader transitioned and up-to-speed for his/her term

If administrative problems occur under the group leader's watch (e.g. the Gantt chart/Network diagrams fall behind, or if memos or report segments are late or absent) then that individual's grade will be docked accordingly.

Project Management.
All students are expected to maintain good organization of their project work during the semester. To enhance organization of efforts, a group PROJECT MANAGEMENT PLAN must be prepared and submitted. The project management plan is formal, written documentation of the scheme your group will use to ensure timely completion, control, and submission of deliverables including any and all documents, fabrication of parts, presentation of results, etc. Project plans often rely heavily on a Project Schedule in GANTT CHART form but also include other elements such as configuration management details, notes regarding design decisions, etc.

Procedures or methods for handling documentation project management plans might include the use of Google Docs, Drop-boxes, or other methods to  share files electronically. 

Another traditional project management element commonly used by engineers is the Design Journal. A design journal is a permanently bound notebook which contains dated entries of all your responsibilities, agreements, notes, sketches, calculations, doodles, and other records of your thoughts and activities related to your design project.  Benefits of maintaining a journal include;

  • A journal can serve as a central record of project activity and information so important material doesn't get misplaced or lost.
  • A journal serves as the historical record of information, decisions, calculations, tasks and obligations from earlier phases of the project.
  •  Information that is fresh and obvious at first can become "fuzzy" over time: The journal permits accurate recall of this information days, weeks or years later.
  • The journal documents your level of effort, and can be used for time management, budgeting and billing purposes.
  • In case of a legal dispute over design patent rights or product liability questions, a dated, permanently bound journal can be submitted as legal evidence to the court.
  • The journal facilitates and improves communication between design engineers, engineer and supervisor, design group members, and other interested parties.

Other items contributing to good organization include saving a file or binder with printed copies of important meeting notes and email communications, backup disks containing computer files, etc. The journals and other personal documentation elements may be reviewed periodically throughout the semester as a means to enhance communication among team members, advisors, and instructors.

Performance and Grading: Course grades are determined from points gathered during the term. Points accrue on both an individual and team basis in the following categories.

Semester Group leader performance (individual grade)

20 pts

Draft report section contents or assigned deliverables (team grade):  
       Problem Statement with "Level 1 Requirements"
       Analysis Appendix
       Drawing Package Appendix
       Manufacturing Appendix - Steps / Planning / parts orders completed

5 pts each X 8
Project Management Planning, execution 20
Preliminary Design Review (team grade) 20
Final Written Report (team grade) 30
Critical Design Review (team grade) 30
 Faculty Advisor input (individual grade) 40

Point Total


Peer Evaluations will determine whether adjustments to the above point totals are necessary, based on the performance of individuals during the term.


While the above grade categories are listed separately, they are in fact inter-related:
For instance, a well-organized and presented report eases the evaluation of design process and results. Good project management skills and procedures help the group to make good decisions and keep on task. And effective teamwork supports group progress in all areas.



The traditional scale (below) will be used for grading, with minor modifications at the discretion of the instructor. (Plus and Minus grading may be used for borderline cases.)

To Earn Letter Grade You must earn  this percentage
A 100%    to 90%
B 89.99% to 80%
C 79.99% to 70%
D 69.99% to 60%
F 59.99% or Below






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