Project Design Lab in Electrical & Computer Engineering

Course Objectives

The objective of this course is to teach students how to carry out the comprehensive design of a complex engineering artifact within a team context.

Whereas individual academic courses are necessarily narrowly focused on specific areas, engineering design generally cuts across academic boundaries, demanding a wide spectrum of knowledge and skills. Although 6806 is sometimes referred to by students as a "robotics course", robotics have simply been chosen as a vehicle to prevent students with a wide spectrum design challenge. At least four basic electrical and computer engineering areas are needed: embedded computer systems, power & control, sensors & instrumentation and software design.

A large component of this project involves problem solving methodology and design process. The project requires design teams to

  1. Perform a requirements analysis to accurately define an engineering problem.
  2. Develop a strategy for solving a practical problem
  3. Generate and evaluate system design variations to implement the strategy
  4. Partition the chosen design into functional subsytems, each with a specification and an interface.
  5. Construct a basic, integrated version of the overall system early in the design cycle and incrementally develop it through successively higher levels of functionality.
  6. Test the system performance in a competition between design teams
  7. Plan, manage and document a small design project

The project is structured as a competition between teams of students. Each design team will be collectively responsible for the development of the solution strategy, the overall system design, the development & continuous integration of the subsystems within the framework of the system, the continuous testing of both subsystems & the system itself and the final demonstration. Each team is also responsible for the allocation and management of the human resources necessary to execute the project. The course marks will be based on a set of live documents, evaluated at predefined points during the term, achievement of interim goals, performance on interim benchmarks and, not least, an end-of-term competition between the teams.