- knowledge base
Engineering faculty advisors at Cedarville University work closely with senior engineering students on the Solar Boat team to improve the boat’s performance each year and continue the team’s legacy of 7 wins in the last 10 years at the Solar Splash Competition. The faculty-student relationships are at times similar to that of a mentor and apprentice, and at other times similar to that of an engineering manager and a team of engineers. This mentor/manager approach allows us to maintain technical continuity from year to year between student teams, develop and maintain an increasingly sophisticated team knowledge base, coach the students through design issues beyond the scope of their classroom instruction, and model the diligence, effort, and attention to detail that are essential for success at the international level in student engineering competitions.
Each year, the students on the Solar Boat Team seek to improve several aspects of the boat’s hull, electronics or drive system. They follow a design process that includes background research, developing a proposal, designing and modelling components and circuits for in-house manufacture or purchase from vendors. The unique nature of the project often leads to design solutions that are not commercially available and requires the students to work with potential vendors in a guided development process to produce something that does not currently exist. In this process, the students develop practical communication strategies with busy vendors, learn to assess the technical validity of potential solutions, and develop expertise in specific details of the project; areas that are sometimes beyond the experience or expertise of their advisors.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/gerald_m_brown/9/