System Engineering In Senior-Design Capstone Projects

System Engineering In Senior-Design Capstone Projects

K. Rudd, J. Waters, D. O'Mara, C. Flaherty, M. Janssen (2011).  System Engineering In Senior-Design Capstone Projects. 12.

The United States Naval Academy (USNA) is an undergraduate-only institution whose mission is to educate future officers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The Naval Academy has participated in a number of project based learning efforts both in engineering classes (Design–Build–Fly) as well as in focused projects (e.g. SAE Formula-1 race car, Cockpit of the Future, and the Sailbot). We are currently participating in the Systems Engineering Research Center research topic “RT-19: Research on Building Education & Workforce Capacity in Systems Engineering” (RT-19) for the 2010–2011 academic year.

Research topic RT-19 is to develop Systems Engineering talent in the workforce through projects developing working solutions to real-world problems. USNA RT-19 participation includes sixteen students from four majors and three departments working on four independent senior-design capstone projects:

• Improving Surge Power Capabilities.

• Personnel Tracking.

• Portable Low-power Water Purification (interdisciplinary project).

• Portable Renewable Sea-based Power Generation, Storage, and Distribution (interdisciplinary project).

Each team is developing a functioning artifact that could be delivered to the RT-19 sponsor as a prototype implementation. The projects were conceived to solve a specific problem, designed to be viable within senior-design course limitations, and implemented by the students. They will be demonstrated as part of capstone presentations in April.

We have faced two challenges so far. The first challenge has been interdisciplinary project coordination in the presence of different senior-design sequences with different schedules, course content, and course requirements. The second challenge has been providing systems-engineering content without a common senior-design sequence for interdisciplinary project teams.

In this paper, we provide a full accounting of our experiences to date including accomplishments, lessons learned, and our plans to improve the senior-design process to support both well-defined as well as quick-reaction project opportunities.


Authors (New): 
Kevin W. Rudd
Jennifer K. Waters
Duncan O'Mara
Christoph J. Flaherty
Michael Janssen
United States Naval Academy, USA
Systems engineering
interdisciplinary team
Capstone Project
Systems Engineering Research Center, “Invitation to SERC Collaborators, RT-19 Research on Building Education & Workforce Capacity in Systems Engineering”, April 2010.: 
International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), “What is Systems Engineering” web page, 
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