Engineering projects test class material

Lynn Klavetter

Lynn Klavetter

Senior engineering students have the opportunity to face real-life challenges in Senior Design Class I and II, which are graduation requirements for all senior engineering majors.

Working in groups of two to six students, they focus on a project that enhances their emphasis in engineering: civil, mechanical, or electrical. The first semester is spent doing preliminary work and the second year consists of working on final designs.

“It [senior design project] relates all of your schooling and real world experiences together,” civil engineering major Cory James said.

One of the students James teamed up with was senior Justin Christensen. Their senior design project dealt with the site development of a retirement home.

“We had to meet with the retirement center people, a few city people and others to get this accomplished,” Christensen said.

“[The most exciting part was] putting together a final design to present and finishing it up,” Christensen said.

Mechanical engineer majors Ray Iliff and Jeff Biehn teamed up with other students becoming the second team at SDSU to design and build a Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Formula Race Car. Biehn said every May there is the SAE Formula Race Car Challenge in Pontiac, Michigan with a variety of competitions ranging from basic design to acceleration to fuel efficiency. The students will not be entering the competition. Due to a lack of funding the car could not be built, but the team finished the design.

“Probably the biggest challenge we had was problems with funding. We were told we didn’t have any available until just recently, so we decided to pass on the design to the next group that is taking over the project,” Biehn said.

Biehn’s group knew funding was going to be a real challenge coming into the fall semester.

“We spent pretty much the whole part of spring semester and some of the summer and all fall working with businesses, the SDSU foundation, the College of Engineering, the Mechanical Engineering Department and outside contacts trying to raise money or get parts,” Biehn said.

One obstacle for the groups was getting together to work on the project since the class does not meet on a regular basis. “The hardest thing is organizing times and work schedules when everyone in the group can meet,” Christensen said.

The importance of teamwork was also essential for the projects. “We can’t really get anything done if we don’t work as a team, so it sort of forces us to work with everyone,” Iliff said.

Biehn emphasized the uniqueness of the senior design project.

“It is a very exciting project and it is really good for the school and the students, but it was just really frustrating with the financial problems that we had. Initially it’s pretty exciting that you get to pick a project like this one. It’s not just a simple project but it’s large scale and incorporates pretty much everything in mechanical engineering,” Biehn said.