An Interdisciplinary Mulit-Campus Senior Design Project for Manufacturable Electronics Productsi

Keywords: Interdisciplinary Design, Undergraduate Education
Date: May 12, 1994

submitted to

EASNE Curriculum Council


Keith R. Carver (
Head, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Massachusetts at Amherst


Keith Barker (
Head, Department of Computer Science and Engineering
University of Connecticut


The purpose of this project is to develop an educational methodology for interdisciplinary senior design projects focused on manufacturable and marketable electronics products, usig senior design teams at UMass Amherst and UConn. In particular, we envision a joint effort between Electrical Engineering senior design teams at UMass Amherst, and Computer Science and Engineering senior design teams at UConn. For a given product design, the Amherst students would lead on the electronics hardware design and the Storrs students would lead on the software design. The joint team would emphasize design of a novel electronics product for manufacturablility and marketability.

Description of Project

We request funding to support Amherst &Storrs faculty planning for two interdisciplinary and inter-institutional senior capstone design projects to begin in the 1994-95 academic year. We envision that this would be a year-long design effort to begin in September 1994 and culminating in the building and demonstration of prototype electronics products in May 1995. Examples of typical senior design projects include a speech mulitplexer, a moving vehicle detector, automatic toll collection, intelligent radio station selection, or a xerography machine controller. However, it would be strongly preferred if the projects were suggested by industry and had not been solved prior to being given to the student teams.

Each project would include both an electronics hardware component and a software component. Although the Amherst team would have nominal responsibility for the hardware side and the Storrs team responsibility for the software side, a coordinated approach would be used. A joint team meeting in the early phase (September-October) at either Amherst or Storrs would emphasize brainstorming solution techniques to the design problem. This brainstorming should include industrial personnel as far as possible. The solution would embrace not only the technical design features of both hardware and software, but also would emphasize non-technical aspects such as economics marketing, manufacturablity, ergonomic design, and environmental considerations.

The team would present their initial design approach to the industrial advisors in the early pahse, and would also make a final presentation of the finished product, to the group, in the concluding phase of the project. Grades would be assigned in both semesters as a result of individual and group work as well as project reports and presentations.

Design will be presented to the students as a concurrent process rather than a lineaer activity with feedback. This emphasis requires the prolonged brainstorming with faculty and industrial input. We also propose to set up a series of 1-hour seminars using local industrial experts to introduct the students to the non-academic aspects of creating products. For example we would present seminars on ergonomic design, econimics of manufacturing, marketability, liability, and manufacturability. These seminars would be presented by industrial colleagues at either of the two academic sites using compressed video to link the student and faculty groups. Videotapes would be produced, with permission, that could be used to support future project teams. Seeking out the individuals to present the seminar series will be done during the 1994 summer period.

The reason for using two campuises in this project is to develop a design experience which incorporates expertise from more than one geograhic site, thereby giving students experience in communicating during the design cycle. The previous expertise in electronics hardware senior projects at Amherst and in software-related projects (e.g. using ViewLogic or Xylinx) at Storrs makes this a reasonable and practicable project.


Please report any web page problems to: