(541a) Client-Sponsored and Team-Defined Senior Capstone Projects | AIChE

(541a) Client-Sponsored and Team-Defined Senior Capstone Projects


Anderson, L. - Presenter, Lafayette College
The Department’s capstone experience allows students to apply their chemical engineering education to solve an open-ended design problem. In the past, teams have applied the engineering design process to paper-based projects, such as the AICHE-sponsored design challenge. In recent years, we have collaborated with local industrial sponsors seeking to optimize part of a manufacturing process. Students must coordinate site visits with the client to observe the process under review and work closely with the industrial partner to deliver expected results. Additionally, student teams are required to perform hands-on experimental trials in the Unit Operations laboratory to test specific design hypotheses. Recent project examples include: 1) Assess efficiency/improvement opportunities for manual assembly line at the B.Braun, Dominican Republic site. 2) Provide a preliminary process design for the recovery of edible protein from cheese whey at Klein Farms. 3) Assess efficiency/improvement opportunities for the watercolor assembly line at Crayola. 4) Assess efficiency/improvement opportunities for bottle filling line at FMI Cosmetics.

This year, the Department expanded the capstone project offerings to include a Team-Defined project. These student-proposed design projects are comparable in scope to client-sponsored projects and can be extensions of student summer internships. Team-Defined projects also present a great opportunity to develop an entrepreneurial idea of interest to members of the team. In the case of an entrepreneurial idea, there is an added requirement of a more detailed pro forma for the proposed business. Team-defined project examples include: 1) Provide a preliminary process design for a commercial plant for 1) kombucha production, 2) apple cider vinegar production, and 3) orange juice concentrate production. Student teams are required to perform hands-on experimental trials in the Unit Operations laboratory to test specific design hypotheses, and also simulate the commercial scale plant in ASPEN.

In this presentation, several projects will be highlighted to demonstrate achievement of course objectives, which are: presenting technical material to an audience at an appropriate level of difficulty and approach; working in teams to effectively and ethically overcome engineering problems and technical challenges; demonstrating project management, organization, and documentation skills for the effective operation of an engineering development team; performing an economically sensitive process or product design project to demonstrate an understanding of cost, profit, regulation, and market issues; and preparing an exhaustive engineering technical report that relates a project in such a manner as to satisfy the goals of clarity and completeness in detail and presentation.

In our experience, client-sponsored and team-defined projects have been well received by students looking for a practical application of their education in their final capstone experience, and present an acceptable alternative to paper-based design.