Course: 14.485 Capstone Design
Semester: Spring 2008
Instructor: Oguz Gunes
Partner: University of Massachusetts Lowell
As the title describes, the project investigated the feasibility of building a light rail/pedestrian bridge over the Merrimack River to connect East and North Campuses with a future vision of connecting the light rail to the MBTA station in Lowell. In addition, the project also investigated building a Student Center building on North Campus to improve student life. Seven design groups, each with four members, produced a set of reports that included relevant discussions, design calculations, and technical drawings associated with the bridge and building design; these reports discussed the conceptual design, project benefits and challenges, preliminary structural design, and material cost and schedule of the project.
The Capstone Design course traditionally meant working on a project that had been previously completed by a professor from the industry, but now, according to the Capstone Design professor: “Input from the students showed that most of them are more pleased to work on an S-L project rather than a previously completed professional project. This was by far the most fulfilling and rewarding S-L experience.” – these are the words from a professor who happened to be one of the skeptics about the feasibility of implementing S-L in engineering courses. Currently, an academic publication entitled “Service Learning: A Cultural Shift in Engineering Education” is being drafted by the faculty participants of the project in order to share our experiences and quantitative assessment with the service-learning community.