Solutions Center

Overview

 Solutions Center is an industry-academic-government partnership within the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Lyles College of Engineering at California State University, Fresno.  Solutions Center is a proven concept in engineering education, fostering innovative, technical collaborations with business, industry, and government agencies. The Center brings real-world projects to undergraduate students in mechanical engineering at California State University, Fresno, where integrated teams of 4 to 5 undergraduate students, a faculty advisor, and a project-sponsor mentor/liaison develop workable solutions.  Student teams work on selected projects for two consecutive semesters and deliver tested, functional hardware and documentation to the sponsor at the completion of the project. 

Coursework

Senior capstone design is a two-course culminating experience in the Mechanical Engineering program at California State University, Fresno. The purpose of this course is to simulate an entry-level engineering project in industry—allowing students to apply engineering knowledge acquired in fundamental ME courses to a real-world, open-ended design challenge. 

Through this two-semester experience students have the unique opportunity to work with a group of 4 or 5 peer students, who will be personally mentored by a ME Faculty Instructor and a Project Mentor/Liaison from the sponsoring company, government agency, or organization.  Students will learn the complete cycle of design and what it entails. At the end of the academic year, actual hardware/software will be produced and presented to the sponsors. Most importantly, by the end of each student’s ME academic program, he/she will understand the difference between theory, paper, and prototype. This capstone experience is required for all undergraduate mechanical engineering students, ensuring that each student will interface with talented faculty, staff and sponsor.

How the Solution Center Works

Design projects are funded by sponsors who provide funds commensurate with complexity of project and details of final prototype.  Throughout each design project, the student team works closely with its faculty advisor and project mentor/liaison, who provide technical support and oversee the project to ensure it meets specifications and is delivered on time. Over the academic year, a dynamic relationship is developed, allowing the student team’s solution to come to fruition as a real engineering innovation benefiting the project sponsor.

What Sponsors Do What Students Do What Faculty Do
  • Sponsors provide a detailed problem statement with potential funding, realistic constraints, the required deliverables, and name of project mentor/liaison
  • If project is selected, sponsor complete appropriate paperwork and arranges funding
  • Sponsors provide funding commensurate with complexity of project and details of final prototype. 
  • Portions of the budget go to student project budgets, and to support the infrastructure of the dewhere students design and build hardware for their projects
  • Sponsors are asked to provide an project mentor/liaison who can commit minimum of 10 hours per semester to support the student team.  These hours are typically dedicated to weekly meetings with the students.
  • Sponsors benefit from students’ fresh ideas, obtain a working piece of hardware at the end of the project, and if an industry sponsor, may gain an edge in  recruiting top students to their company. The investment of an industry sponsor may also can result in a competitive advantage, with the company retaining exclusive  rights to the intellectual property developed. 
  • Each team “bids” on potential projects, providing strengths, weaknesses, expertise as part of “bid” process
  • Each student team may commit a minimum of 1000 hours to the project
  • Students gain valuable experience working with professional engineers
  • Students may work in the various department, college and university laboratories, workshops, and computer facilities.  If desired, students may also work at the sponsor's work site
  • Students work within time and materials budgets, while gaining experience with industry procedures such as writing purchase orders and meeting deadlines under pressure
  • Student teams submit approximately four written reports and many oral presentations on product development and testing
  • ME135 and ME155 Faculty Instructor(s) solicit projects and organize student teams to “bid” on projects.   Faculty then work with sponsors to award project to student teams.  Faculty also work with sponsors to submit paperwork and secure funding.

 

  • The ME135 and ME155 Faculty Instructor(s) may devote a minimum of 90 hours to supervising the sponsored student team throughout the academic year

 

  • The ME135 and ME155 Faculty Instructor assists student teams in understanding and executing the design process

 

  • The ME135 and ME155 Faculty Instructor serves as the primary point of contact for academic topics (schedule, deliverables, grading, etc.) 

 

  • The ME135 and ME155 Faculty Instructor ensures that student teams meet the academic course learning objectives, program student outcomes and sponsor's project goals