This year, the Pre-Capstone Principles of Engineering Design class is revolved around Project WindBAG, the central semester-long team-based project. This project is designed to provide students with the opportunity to act as junior engineers exploring solutions to a complex, multi-level, and competency-building program.
The students are given a task to design, build and test a system capable of converting wind energy into some more useful form of energy and then storing this energy in some compact, transportable module. The wind source is represented by a household electric fan, and the energy modules must be used to propel a vehicle, carrying as large a payload through as many loops around a track as possible, subject to the restrictions and conditions.
One component of the experience is that the problem revolves around a central narrative. This narrative provides the opportunity to diagram the problem within its complete context, just as problems in the real world exist within particular contexts. This experiential learning provides the basis on which competencies will be further developed.