The Mechanical Engineering (ME) Capstone Design Program was pioneered by ME Profs. Gerald D. Whitehouse and Lawrence "Dan" R. Daniel† during 1981-1982 when few schools offered anything like it. Improvements made since then by Profs. Warren N. Waggenspack and Michael C. Murphy include a notebook requirement for documentation, a panel of expert professionals to provide evaluation and critique, and the related courses were made communications-intensive. Prof. Muhammad A. Wahab introduced poster sessions. Prof. Dimitris E. Nikitopoulos added a Capstone Design Fair to introduce the students to proposed projects and sponsors, as well as safety training developed by Industrial Engineering (IE), Prof. Fereydoun "Fred" Aghazadeh. Special lectures by practicing engineers on reliability, project management, estimation, leadership and teamwork were also added.
An interdisciplinary component was formally introduced to the ME program in 2012 in synergy with Prof. Jorge Arevena† of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and Profs. David Constant and Daniel Hayes of the Biological & Agricultural Engineering (BAE) adding this real-world challenging experience to the students’ learning opportunity portfolio. In 2016 IE students were included in synergy with Prof. Laura Ikuma, and in 2017 Chemical Engineering (ChemE) Students will be included as well in a pilot effort initiated by Prof. John Flake of ChemE.
The Program is enhanced by The Frank H. Walk Design Presentation Room (2010) and modern CNC tooling in the Advanced Manufacturing and Machining Facility (AMMF), thanks to generous gifts by ME alumni Dr. Frank H. Walk† and Mr. Bob Alford†. Since 2015 the Capstone Students have access to advanced manufacturing resources through the AMMF (3D printing in plastics and metals, EDM, multi-axes micro-milling, large format water-jet machining).
The outstanding project of the year is honored by the Ben Burns Award, in memory of Ben Burns, Jr. (BSME 1981). Shortly after graduation, Ben lost his life in an industrial accident. His interest and enthusiasm in Capstone "Senior" Design motivated his parents, and many others since, to fund this award. More than ten ME Capstone Design projects have been awarded U.S. patents over the years.
The Capstone Design Program is an invaluable educational asset to LSU graduates and is recognized as such by many employers. It is the epitome of the effort to forge “The LSU Engineer” as defined by the strategic plans of the Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Department (MIE) and the College of Engineering.