Capstone Design Projects: Theory Meets Practice

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Conference Name

The International Conference on Emerging Trends in Engineering and Technology (IConETech-2020)


This paper describes one example of an adjustable gooseneck trailer hitch assembly that was assigned as a senior capstone design project course at Kettering University, Flint, Michigan, USA to carry out their work from concept to testing phases of a real prototype – in short, following “Theory meets practice” concept. Typically at most other engineering colleges, students complete their capstone projects in one year, while at Kettering University, the students complete their capstone courses in one academic term that lasts only about 11 weeks. Using math and advanced Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) tools for analysis is expected. Three different groups of students enrolled in three separate courses over 3 academic terms developed two different trailer hitch devices. The first gooseneck hitch system briefly described here was the effort of a group of four students of the capstone course. They designed a manually adjustable device. However, due to time constraints, their fabricated device ended up being a rigid frame. These students carried out all the different tasks of the project more or less equitably. The second trailer hitch system described in this paper was the effort of a single student of the capstone course who designed and fabricated a compliant (adjustable) hitch system. However, due to time constraints, detailed finite element analysis (FEA) or testing of the device could not be done. A third group of two students enrolled in Applied Finite Element Analysis course in another academic term chose the compliant hitch design carried by the single student for their final class project, and attempted analysis by MatLab and FEA. Preliminary results obtained for both of these gooseneck trailer hitch systems are presented and discussed briefly in the paper. Majority of the capstone course projects carried out at Kettering University represent uniqueness in terms of completing them in one academic term.

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