Mechanical Engineering Capstone: Collins Aerospace

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By Ian Conte, Copy Editor

The objective of the Collins Aerospace capstone team is to redesign a proprietary aerospace component using a composite material. With their redesign, the team hopes to reduce the overall weight of the component. The team is collaborating with Collins Aerospace and provides the company with weekly updates on their progress. 

As of right now, the Collins team is in the manufacturing portion of their project, although they can’t share too many details because the project is proprietary. They’re busy at work prototyping a section of their design for testing and verification, and are on track to completing their schedule with a few days of wiggle room before their final presentation.

Navigating Centers for Disease Control (CDC) social distancing guidelines has been particularly difficult for the Collins team. Team Lead LJ Kruszewski notes that the lack of in-person opportunities has made communicating with the team’s professor a challenge. Kruszewski explained that “it’s easier to describe and explain information and [ask] questions in person,” and that virtual mediums like Microsoft Teams aren’t as effective. Kruszewski also believes that having open office hours would have allowed the team to get answers to important questions much faster.

Kruszewski went on to explain that the team’s greatest challenge was “learning in depth information about composites and composite design.” He said that while composite materials are “briefly covered in the Materials class,” his team needed to conduct a significant amount of additional research before they were ready to design their component.

Despite these challenges, Kruszewski feels that the team’s greatest success has been communication. He highlighted his team members’ busy schedules: “We currently have two athletes, one full time employee, and two other full-time students.” Kruszewski said that they’ve been careful about keeping each other and their customer well-informed. 

He says that “since we are working with Collins, we are focused on delivering a design that satisfies our customer.”  Kruszewski and his team all understand that “the project is very important, and we need to be diligent with the little time we have.”

Kruszewski’s advice to future engineering capstone students is threefold:

First, he stresses that it’s important to get as much done as possible in Preliminary Design. This will prevent cramming even more deadlines into your Detail semester, and will surely mitigate some stress.

Second, Kruszewski recommends giving an early draft of your reports to professors for feedback before a presentation. He notes that this will “save your grade while also helping you better understand how to present your information.” 

Third, he notes the importance of always asking questions, no matter if it’s for clarification or curiosity. He feels like some of the questions his team failed to ask created problems and some lost time.

All in all, Kruszewski has “really enjoyed how my team has been working and [is] very proud of the work that has been accomplished.”

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