Orange County Branch Newsletter

September 2011

UCI Seeking Mentors

Professional Mentors sought for UCI class

UCI’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is looking for professional engineers to mentor our senior capstone design course teams. CEE181 is a 3-quarter course sequence beginning its twelfth year in September. The fall quarter focuses on site development and teams comprised of seniors from each focus area of civil and environmental engineering who will complete a site planning exercise for a City of Irvine planning area. In the winter and spring quarters, the focus shifts to specific design projects in the various specialization areas, including structural, transportation, water, and environmental engineering. Each team includes 4 to 6 seniors specializing in one area. Each of these design projects is mentored by a practicing professional engineer who defines the project and then serves as the primary technical consultant (we deem this a Client/Consultant, or CC).

Project Management:

These design projects run from January through the end of May (about 20 working weeks after excluding exam and holiday breaks). Typically, design teams (4-6 students) meet at the office of the client/consultants for 1 or 2 hours, weekly or bi-weekly, often with staff under the primary Client/Consultant. Typically, in the winter quarter, the Thursday 5-6:30 pm time slot is available for all students (Tuesday and Thursdays in the Spring quarter) but the actual schedule is set by the CC. Usually, junior colleagues and staff at the CC office get involved, often to a much greater degree than the formal CC. There is no grading of presentations or reports required, although CCs are invited to participate and many do.

Project Descriptions:

CCs often base a design project on a prior firm project, typically by defining a sub-project that fits the level of expertise of the student team as well as the 20-week time frame. Original documents, drawings, and data can be reused. We try to position projects, at least hypothetically, within the City of Irvine, preferably in Planning Area 6 (north of the Great Park) but this is not a hard constraint. The CC defines the project in terms of objectives, constraints, and basic requirements, but is free to alter project scope at any time to address both problems and opportunities. We are particularly interested in formal consideration of design alternatives. We do not expect a full project design and we will typically see designs for selected components. Each team does a project cost estimate and schedule, and must document the entire design project. We have several deliverables in this regard:

Winter (January-March)
  1. A Technical Progress Report documenting the defined project (objectives, constraints, requirements), and preliminary progress, problems, and results
  2. PDR: Preliminary Design Report, and a separate Executive Summary
  3. A poster documenting winter quarter work to be presented at the School-wide Design Review Day
  4. A project log, kept by the Project Manager
Spring Quarter (April-June)
  1. Two Technical Progress Reports documenting progress on the defined project
  2. FDR: Final Design Report, and a separate Executive Summary
  3. Final Design Team Presentation (15 minutes plus 5 minutes for questions)
  4. A poster documenting all design project work to be presented at the School-wide Presentation Day in June
  5. A project log, kept by the Project Manager
Student Qualifications:

A significant percentage of our students have internships that provide them with additional experience and most have completed the FE exam. These are, however, senior students who are still taking a full course load. As such, they will only see some of the relevant background material as the academic year progresses. Some CCs will take on an active instructional role. On the other hand, the scope of the project is determined by the CC, so it can be modified to meet the skill level of the team.

UCI Resources:

The course lecturer and the faculty coordinator are involved in all aspects of course management. A full time Teaching Assistant works with the CCs and meets weekly with each project team. Each team has a faculty mentor who serves as an independent reviewer of student progress.

While it is not meant to be a complete real-world project, it is meant to be a real-world experience. The primary student need is for professional and technical mentoring.

Interested in helping the next generation?

If you are interested in mentoring a senior design project team, please contact Professor Michael McNally at [email protected].

You can read up on the CEE181 course itself at the UCI website.