Sixteen students and four faculty members from the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering (MIE) depart today to visit Peking University (PKU) in Beijing, China.
The four-day visit is the first face-to-face meeting for the cross-cultural capstone design project teams and their supervisors.
Capstone design is a fourth-year course requirement, where students apply their disciplinary knowledge and skills to conduct an engineering analysis and design for an industry-based need. A total of five projects, three from MIE and two from PKU, are included in the cross-cultural branch of capstone, where the project is shared between two international universities.
While the lengthy travel time and jetlag must be faced, Sahil Gupta (MechE 1T3 + PEY) has never before been to China, and is excited to meet his project teammates on the other side of the world.
Since the start of the term, Gupta and his three MIE team members have been communicating with their four PKU counterparts over Skype.
“Our PKU teammates have to submit their own program deliverables, as do we, and it’s interesting to see what the differences there are,” said Gupta of the group collaborating to compile one report.
His team’s project is a Portable Assisted Mobility Device (PAMD), a small power-assisted vehicle that can transport an individual and small item of luggage, but is also lightweight enough to be taken on public transport and carried. Their project is also part of the Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education (PACE) global challenge, a two-year project for which U of T Engineering received PACE’s second place for industrial design.
“We’ve been reworking last year’s design and seeing if there are alternatives,” said Gupta. He and his teammates will develop a PAMD prototype this year.
“Getting a different perspective from external input can really change the way you think, and help you develop more ideas,” said Gupta of the experience to date. “Given how businesses operate today, we as engineers will work with more people globally.”
The brief visit to Peking University will require all teams to prepare for project presentations on Sunday. The students will then have one day to see local sites with their new PKU friends.
“The cross-cultural capstone is an exceptional opportunity for some of our brightest undergraduates to work with students abroad,” said Professor Kamran Behdinan (MIE), NSERC Chair in Multidisciplinary Engineering Design and coordinator of international capstone design projects.
The PKU students will have an opportunity to visit Toronto when they participate in final project presentations during the MIE Capstone Design Showcase in April.