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Selecting a Capstone Product Design Project

Michael Hill, M. Hill & Associates, PO Box 622, Wyckoff, NJ 07481, Sanat K. Kumar, Department of Chemical Engineering, Columbia University, 500 W 120th St, Mudd 814, New York, NY 10027, and Lynn H. Lander, Lander & Associates, LLC, PO Box 201, Harrington Park, NJ 07640-0201.

Columbia University has several years of experience with its undergraduate capstone product design course, requiring students to complete a semester-long product design project. Among our previously assigned projects were the design of biodegradable roadway deicers, drinking water purification devices, portable hemodialysis devices, and second generation biofuels. Looking back at previous projects, we have been able to extract important lessons about project selection and assignment. This paper will discuss these lessons, including the various factors that make for a successful project.