Kansas State University


E C E Uplink

Senior Design Experience


If you had to dream up a design experience for students – what would it look like? What should senior engineering students know? What should they be able to do?

Over the past three years the ECE faculty has wrestled with those questions. They want a design experience that will equip students to enter their professional or academic careers. It should help students take the next step by modeling a design experience.


With those thoughts in mind, the course has the following goals:

  • Bring order to ill-defined problems.
  • Realize that communication is integral to all professional endeavors.
  • See engineering solutions in a broader societal context.
  • Understand the qualities of good teamwork.
  • Understand the need for lifelong learning.

ECE 590 strives to meet these goals with three major thrusts. One thrust is communication through writing and speaking, which the students do throughout the course. The second thrust is learning ethics with a focus on integrity. The third thrust is a team project.

IMG_20150414_200454_699Each student participates in a collaborative effort with three to six classmates to design a product or system. For each project the students pull together different engineering and design disciplines to develop the product, schedule and budget the effort, field input from customers, clients, influencers, and users, write documentation to detail their efforts, and present the project in two separate design reviews.

IMG_0464The mix of students makes project development a challenge because of their curriculum emphases that vary from electrical power to computer engineering to bioengineering. Projects have run the gamut from paper studies to working prototypes. Examples of paper studies include powering two different aqueducts to western Kansas. Examples of working prototypes include a test bench for hospital medication pumps to wheel robots and a three-dimensional LED cube.

Some of these projects will adorn the atrium in the new engineering building. Others will travel with the dean’s office to rural high schools to whet the appetite of younger students for engineering.

All senior students must take ECE 590. It is a springboard into other technical electives.


Should you have any thoughts of projects that you think might be useful or interesting, please contact me.


Kim R. Fowler-kimrfowler@ksu.edu