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Senior Design Capstone Projects save money, provide experience

Spring 2016 Sr. Design Poster Competition Winners
Spring 2016 Sr. Design Poster Competition Winners
During the 2016 spring semester, IE senior design Capstone Projects saved money, improved processes and increased efficiency for participating companies - and gave great experience to the senior students involved.

Capstone Projects are for seniors only, and are the centerpiece for the IE 431 Senior Design class taught by IE professors Dr. Mark Lehto and Dr. Barrett Caldwell. These final projects give IE seniors practical experience before graduation. "They gain valuable experience applying the IE concepts they have learned while getting a flavor of the pace and expectations of industry," says Dave Kotterman, IE Director of Industry Relations and the liaison between students and companies. "Also, the sponsoring companies gain access to talented engineers and have a chance to showcase their organization. Last semester, 44% of our projects reported savings at an average annual level of $73,000."

There were 27 projects involving more than 130 students. Participating companies included Intel, Eaton, Fiat Chrysler Automotive, IU Arnett, General Motors, Lowe's, Purdue Dining and Catering, Wabash National, Jeco Plastics, Newgistics, Endress+Hauser, CNO Financial, Holland Colours America, Premier Detailing and Wash, Zimmer Biomet, Myers Spring, and Tru Flex.

This past semester concluded with the inaugural IE senior design poster competition on April 28. Representatives from 16 different companies attended and enjoyed interacting with the students and reviewing the team posters on display. Many IE undergraduates where able to see what types of projects they might be involved with in the future, and the four top teams received award certificates and cash prizes.

Team Eaton ELC won first prize with their project to increase material flow efficiency by 20% in the kitting and packing operations. The team report describes what they did to accomplish this: "We identified the major problem and bottleneck in the entire material flow. Next, we collected the data and conducted the data analysis. Then we generated ideas. Finally, we developed our solutions and showed our solution results."

Besides cost savings and the fresh ideas students bring to the projects, the companies showcase their organizations to them. "Many companies use this program as a recruiting vein - they view it like a 12-week interviewing period," says Kotterman. "This class has broad impact."

Intel Corporation's Technical Enablement Group in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, thanked Kotterman for the opportunity to work with Purdue IE students. "My colleagues and I were really impressed by what the students were able to accomplish in this project. They exceeded our expectations," says Kam Lee, Intel Solution Architect. "The students were able to ramp up quickly and…demonstrated teamwork, perseverance, and great communication skills. We also would like to recognize their ability to learn new things and think out of the box in problem solving.

Find out more about IE Capstone Projectssubmit a project idea, or contact IE Director of Industry Relations Dave Kotterman for more information.

Writer: DeEtte Starr, starrd@purdue.edu