Mechanical Engineering Capstone Overview
The Mechanical Engineering Capstone provides first class (senior) cadets with an opportunity to apply everything that they have learned in their first three years in the Mechanical Engineering program to projects that are derived from real-world Coast Guard and general Mechanical Engineering problems. Cadets are required to use all of the theory that they have gained to generate a practical solution to the problem. Some solutions are implemented and some even receive a patent. The ultimate goal is to provide a direct application of theory and the design process to cadets.
The Mechanical Engineering Capstone is broken down into two distinct semester-long courses. The first course, called Design Project Management, is offered in the fall semester of first class year. This course is focused on the engineering design process. Cadets reach out to the customers and stakeholders, research available material, generate possible solutions, choose the best solution through side-by-side comparison and then implement a project timeline for prototype manufacturing. By the end of the first semester, cadets have created a prototype to display the feasibility of the solution. The second course, called Mechanical Engineering Design, is offered in the spring semester of first class year. This course integrates the solution to the system and then analyzes system performance, safety, reliability, cost and socio-ecological impacts. Engineering ethics and engineering standards are analyzed and the final solution has to comply with all applicable standards. Heavy emphasis is placed on Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and manufacturing.
Cadets are provided with a list of top projects by Mechanical Engineering faculty who have reached out to their Coast Guard programs and civilian peers. Problem statements come from general real-world problems or specific issues within the Coast Guard’s Marine Engineering, Marine Safety, Aviation Engineering fields. Cadets then form small design teams of three to five members and choose a topic choice through the course coordinator. Project advisors are chosen for each group based on their technical background and area of expertise. Project advisors serve as consultants to the teams and provide conduits to customers within specific Coast Guard fields.
Beyond classroom lectures, cadets meet weekly with their project advisors and maintain group logs to track research and decision-making strategies. Cadets submit technical reports and provide presentations to their peers and Mechanical Engineering faculty. Faculty members provide feedback to cadets on technical content, feasibility and drive cadets to greater understanding of solutions through constructive input. The final deliverable is unique based on the problem statement. All cadets provide a group presentation, technical report and a prototype that represents the solution to faculty, peers, customers and stakeholders on the last day of classes of the spring semester.