College Completes Successful Year of Student Design Projects

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gaining valuable experience on student project teams is one of the key objectives of the College of Engineering.

Following on a long history of students working together on common design objectives -- many tied to area corporate partners -- the College has completed another successful academic year of completing these exercises as a requirement for graduation.

The projects cover the complete range of majors, including biomedical, chemical, civil, electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineering.  They also include year-long assignments for the Program for Enhanced Design Experience (PEDE), and a unique effort, titled Virtual International Project Teams (VIPT).

"One of the College's strategic goals is to 'create a collegiate experience that encourages intellectual rigor and productive teamwork, and results in the graduation of engineers who are well prepared to succeed in the global workplace,'" Engineering Dean P. Barry Butler explained.  "We have long believed that student design projects are an excellent outcome of this important goal."

Student design projects hook up a team of students, a faculty member, and in many cases an area company or organization to tackle a specific real-word design challenge over a period of weeks or several months.  Each Engineering department participates in these projects.

PEDE is a two-semester design sequence that is closely tied to actual industrial design projects. All PEDE projects have an industrial sponsor and are guided by an lead engineer from the industry and a faculty adviser from the home department, usually with the assistance of a dedicated teaching assistant.

The VIPT program, which partners the UI with the Ecole Polytechnique Universitaire de Marseille (Polytech'Marseille, France develops an international research experience for undergraduate engineering students.  It involves substantial interaction between the students in each country on collaborative projects that last for a complete year.  Regular communication on the Internet, combined with travel to each partner institution (UI students are currently in France), provides a realistic, intense level of partnership on a common project. The VIPT program allows students to share a team-based project experience; gain an understanding and appreciation of engineering standards, common engineering practices, and French culture; develop the personal skills necessary to work on a team with students from another country on a common project; and understand and master the difficulties of communicating clearly and concisely through electronic media.

For a list of teams for senior design projects, PEDE projects, and VIPT for the 2008-2009 academic year, go to http://www.engineering.uiowa.edu/news/senior-design.