As your last semester of high school starts, you’ll also be starting your capstone engineering project. This project will take all semester as you identify a problem, research a component of your solution, and build multiple prototypes as you work toward a final solution. The entire project will culminate in your presenting both your research and your solution to the problem. As you work through the first phase of this project, you will be expected to:
- Select and fully define a real-world problem
- Research, brainstorm, and select some possible solutions
- Identify a key area of needed research & plan that research
- Complete the first phase of your research report
In addition to our engineering work, we’ll also do some work related to college and the future. While you’re budgeting time for your research and planning, you also need to do three important college tasks.
- Apply to UAF (if you haven’t… time it right and you can do it for free!)
- Fill out the FAFSA online with your family
- Apply to the AEEF Scholarship
When you’re done you will have gotten a good start on your senior capstone project as well as its corresponding engineering research project. You will also have made some major headway in your college journey.
Defining the Problem
To start, you need to identify a real-world problem you want to address. The problems can be large-scale, small-scale, or anywhere in between. You want a problem that is interesting to you, and that can reasonably be addressed in our lab in one semester. As we get started solving your capstone project problem, we’ll start by doing some actual engineering research. While we all want to jump into building, it’s important to set a good foundation by creating a complete design brief, doing a lot of brainstorming, and of course: doing research!
This first part of your senior capstone project will ask you to design an experiment that will let you collect data about a science principle connected to your senior project. Maybe your project is about air pressure in bike tires: then you could do some research on psi and surface area for tires. Maybe your project is on electrical connectors: then you could do some research on electrical conductivity in different materials. Or maybe your project is about making quadcopters fly better: then you could do research on the lift of quadcopter props.
First you’ll need to settle on a problem to solve this semester
GRADING & PROCESS
Select a problem and develop a complete design brief to define it
Research the problem and brainstorm possible solutions
Identify a research question and topic for your own research
Have Mr. Benshoof approve your design brief & research topic
Select a few ideas for what your solution might be
Build very basic proof-of-concept prototypes!
Discuss your ideas with Mr. Benshoof
Engineering is all about using math and science to solve problems and make the world a better place. A big part of the math and science component is being able to research principles that relate to your problem or to the creation of your prototyped solution.
The research component of your capstone project will run concurrently with the building and prototyping aspect of your project. You’ll need to budget your time carefully to make sure both are progressing at the right place, and so that you meet the required deadlines.
In this part, you’ll write a short literature review on the topic you’ve chosen. You’ll then design an experiment that will test the principle(s) you need to investigate. You’ll then complete that experiment and collect as much data as you can.
GRADING & PROCESS
Identify a relevant principle to research
Have Mr. Benshoof approve your idea/topic
Take notes on 5 pieces of scholarly literature
Write a 3-page literature review
Define your problem, make a hypothesis, and design an experiment
Conduct the experiment and collect the data
Have Mr. Benshoof edit your literature review and confirm your data
Complex Machine 1: Tree Planter
In addition to your work on your semester project, you also need to complete three important tasks for your college work. First, if you have not yet applied to UAF you need to do so. If you time it right, you can apply for free. Having an application in and accepted to UAF gives you the peace-of-mind that you’re ready to go somewhere, and also lets you start the ball rolling on some important scholarship pieces. If you want to apply elsewhere, now’s the time to do that, too!
Then, you’ll fill out the FAFSA with your family. This is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s filled out online, and requires you to sit down with your family to include various financial information. The FAFSA is a required step for applying to most scholarships at any university – including UAF.
Finally, once you’ve been accepted to UAF and the FAFSA is complete, you can turn your attention to the Alaska Engineering Education Foundation scholarship application. This essay was written last semester, so all you need to do is complete the resume and application portion, attach your essay, and get it submitted. Watch the deadline!
GRADING & PROCESS
Apply to UAF
Complete the FAFSA
Complete the AEEF Scholarship Application
Have Mr. Benshoof check-off your completed work!
Part 1 Resources
Part 2 Resources
Part 3 Resources