Mechanical Engineering Capstone projects traditionally involve design and fabrication of a piece of hardware needed to meet the specifications of an industrial sponsor. Such projects provide an opportunity for the students to apply their classroom knowledge to a practical project and to interact and collaborate with a motivated sponsor. Howard University and Sandia National Laboratories have collaborated for the past seven years on developing research-focused projects from a national laboratory that are appropriate for Capstone design student teams. The students are exposed to a research environment and learn how to use their designs to perform experiments that can acquire high-quality data. As part of these problem-based learning projects, the students employ various Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) tools available as part of their design work, build apparatus, acquire data, and perform data analysis. The projects are focused on design, but lead to an experimental apparatus that is tested, leading to students’ experience with equipment such as data acquisition systems, high-speed cameras, image analysis, evaluation of experimental uncertainty, and comparing data with models. Two example projects will be presented in this paper, one focused on development of apparatus for testing flocculation of small particles, and another on developing a vibration test platform for experiments on bubbles under vibration.

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