Towards a design model for student graduation projects – a case study

Year: 2013
Editor: John Lawlor, Ger Reilly, Robert Simpson, Michael Ring, Ahmed Kovacevic, Mark McGrath, William Ion, David Tormey, Erik Bohemia, Chris McMahon, Brian Parkinson
Author: Sivaloganathan, Sangarapillai (2); Shahin, Tamer (1)
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: The Petroleum Institute, United Arab Emirates; 2: United Arab Emirates University, United Arab Emirates
Section: Projects
Page(s): 338-343
ISBN: 978-1-904670-42-1


A Graduation Project (or senior capstone design project) is an important constituent of an engineering program. It has several unique characteristics such as: the end product is a proof of product concept as opposed to a finished product that can be made and sold; the students are novices in design and lack product specific knowledge; and so on. It is therefore appropriate to have a special design model for Graduation projects. The model should have appropriate scaffolds to facilitate the design process. Observations of students taking a graduation project showed that design interpretation of an existing similar product was very useful to the students and was a crucial stage in providing the students with the understanding and confidence needed that experienced designers rely on when designing products. A design model with these provisions was proposed and the model was tested with two student groups designing a similar product: Development of a vertical access platform. Results were consistent with previous observations in that the student group that performed the new model that integrated design interpretation was able to better and more quickly understand the task at hand and allowed them to generate more innovative concepts, which they were not able to do before the design interpretation stage.

Keywords: Systematic design, graduation projects, design model, specialist knowledge


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