Foundation Design:


Table of Contents

Client Statement (Need)

You've been contacted to develop a potato planting device for three farmers: Barry Robinson, Anita Augusen, and Reid Ockerman. The farmers want to be able to sit on their back porches and launch potatoes into their fields, so the launcher needs to be able to meet the following criteria:

Your mission is to design, and build a potato launcher, with completed design documentation by the end of this quarter using only the allowed materials and supplies. After submitting your finished product and related design documentation, you will be encouraged to participate in the competition demonstrating all results during the spring quarter.

Problem Definition

Clarify Objectives

There are a number of goals for this project. As student engineers, you are probably most focused on the goals associated with the design problem itself. However, the ME department views the educational goals as being more important than the design goals of the particular problem. The ME Department views the design problem simply as a means of achieving the educational goals. Please review the list of Design Project Objectives below, and use that to extract information about your design problem.

Design Project Objectives

The RIT Mechanical Engineering Department has identified nine educational outcomes, that every graduate of our program is expected to be able to demonstrate at the time of graduation, these are referred to as BS Mechanical Engineering Program Outcomes (MEPOs). This design project is expected to help you lay the foundation for several of these expected educational outcomes. The outcomes focused on here, and specific assignments associated with each of them are listed below.

Primary Learning Outcomes for This Project

In addition to your peers and instructors in the course, several other parties have a vested interest in the design project that you are working on. These stakeholders, while they may not be your customer, certainly have an impact upon the way your will design and deliver your product. If you design a product without considering all stakeholders, you may not achieve a successful design. Your stakeholders include:


  1. RIT Student Body
  2. RIT Faculty and Staff
  3. RIT Public Safety Office
  4. RIT Risk Management Office

Design Objectives for The Potato Launcher Project

Objective Tree

This objective tree illustrates the primary learning outcomes as the objectives for the project.

This is an objective tree for the learning outcomes.

This is an objective tree for the learning outcomes.

Establish User Requirements

Identify Constraints

Design Constraints for The Potato Launcher Project

Establish Functions

The design team must design and construct a device to achieve the following functions.

Conceptual Design

Establish Design Specifications

If the customer objectives are the fuzzy wording of what the design should be, then the specifications are the more defined wording of what the design should be. In most real-life product developments, the custoemr need arrives at the egineer by way of the marketing research department, or customer feedback and focus groups. Usually, the needs can be quite vague. For the purpose of this design problem, you have a very well defined set of objectives for the potatoe launcher project, which you can translate into specifications quite directly. We will not spend a lot of time on this topic in this foundation course in design, but it will be a major focus in your cornerstone design course.

Generate Alternatives

Each team must provide at least three options or means by which each function could be accomplished.

Function / Means Matrix
Required Function Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
Loading Function
Charging Function
Aiming Function
Ignition Function
Fail-Safe Function

Preliminary Design

Model or Analyze Design

Test and Evaluate Design

Detailed Design

Refine and Optimize Design

Design Communication

Team Values and Norms

Team Values

The team values clarify the behaviors expected of each engineering team member as they interact with other members of their team, and their clients. Each design team in mechanical engineering at RIT is expected to practice these VALUES (the expected behaviors of every team member) and and to conduct a peer assessment of student performance against the team NORMS (the expected levels of performance measuring those behaviors).

Each team member will be prompt and arrive at the team meetings on time. If an unexpected conflict comes up, the absent team member will notify at least one team-mate prior to the expected absence. An absent team-member should confirm that a team-mate has received their message (in person, voice mail, email, etc).
Each team member will complete their tasks thoroughly and completely, so that the work does not have to be re-done by a peer on the team. If a member does not know how to complete a task, feels overwhelmed, or needs assistance then the member notifies peers, and seeks assistance either from a peer, the faculty guide, a faculty consultant, or another person.
Each team member completes their work accurately and in a way that can be easily checked for accuracy by peers and the faculty guide. All work is fully documented and easy to follow.
Professional and Ethical
Each team member gives credit where credit is due. All work completed includes citations to appropriate literature, or sources of assistance. If a team member has gotten assistance from a publication or individual, then that assistance or guidance is fully documented in the reports prepared. Each team member is honest and trustworthy in their dealings with their peers.
Each team member will contribute an equal share to the success of the project.

Team Norms: Peer Assessment Rubric

At the end of the project every team member will conduct a peer assessment of their team-mates. The rubric below indicates how each team member will assess each peer. These 'Norms' reflect how each team member expects their peers to meet the team 'Values'. The instructor will use this peer assessment as an input to the grading process for the course. Note that ME students will be asked to conduct assessments like this for most design projects that you will be involved with throughout your time at RIT. The rubric, or assessment guide, shown below should guide each student as they complete their peer assessment form to submit to the instructor at the conclusion of the project.

Peer Assessment Form

Every team member should complete a peer assessment form for each of the team values, and provide a norm (or grade) for each student on their team. Each student should rate each peer with a grade of 'Unsatisfactory', 'Needs Improvement', 'Meets Expectations', or 'Exceeds Expectations' at the end of the project. Any grade of 'Needs Improvement' or 'Exceeds Expectations' must be accompanied by a paragraph of justification. For example, if you feel that one of your team members was late every class, and really held your team back, you have to prepare a written statement supporting your grade.

Accepted Norms of Performance: Student Peer Assessment Rubric
Value Unsatisfactory Needs Improvement Meets Expectations Exceeds Expectations
Punctual The team member has had one or more unexcused absences or tardy arrivals to a scheduled team activity. The team member is not notifying others of conflicts with meeting times, or has allowed other committments to impede the member's duties to this team. The team member is detracting from the performance of the entire team. The team member has had one or more unexcused absences or tardy arrivals. The individual could and should have done a better job at notifying (in advance) a peer of the absence or tradiness. At the current time, the problem has not caused significant harm to the team, but this behavior needs to improve. It is not unusual for a team member to receive this rating a couple of times during the project. The team member was prompt and present at every team event this week, or any absences were excused in advance. If there was an unexcused absence or tardiness, then the team-mates agreed that the reason disclosed after the fact was indeed unavoidable. For example, a member is in a fender bender on the way to campus, and was unable to contact a team-mate about being late. The absent member caught up with a peer as soon as practical, and informed them of the problem. Not only is the team member always prompt and present, but the member clearly plans ahead for excused absences (such as job trips) and insures that the absence will not adversely affect the team's performance. The member notifies the team of heavy loads and external conflicts (such as exams in other classes) that COULD have an adverse impact on the team, and works with the peers on this team to make sure that the information flow from the member to and from the peers is smooth even in such cases.
Thorough The team member has not completed the task assigned, or has submitted a response that is clearly insufficient. The work will need to be re-done by another team member in order for the team to move forward. Some of the work may have been done, but it was incomplete. The team member is detracting from the performance of the entire team. The team member made some progress towards the task assigned, but not as much progress as should have been accomplished. The work may be done, but the other team member's have no way of checking the results, because the supporting documentation is incomplete. The team member is getting behind on the tasks that need to be completed. The team member needs to make up the missed work during the next evaluation period. The team member has made solid progress towards the task assigned. The task is complete, and is well done, though it may need some additional work and refinement to be fully complete. The assignment may be incomplete, but the team member has clearly made a good effort towards getting the task done. In retrospect, this task may have been too much for the member to do in the time allocated, so the fact that the task is not done yet is not due to lack of effort by the member. The task has been completed fully, and is in essentially finished form. The other team members can readily check the work submitted since the documentation is so clear. Not only is the work done, but everyone on the team recognizes that the task is complete with little or no need for additional effort.
Value Unsatisfactory Needs Improvement Meets Expectations Exceeds Expectations
Accurate The work completed by the team member is unacceptable and does not meet the basic standards of engineering work. Engineering principles were not applied, or were grossly mis-applied. Basic elements of the engineering task were overlooked. The work completed must be re-done completely. The work completed by the member contains many errors that must be corrected. While the basic approach to problem solving may be ok, the actual work completed needs to be largely re-done in order to be useful to the team. Some things were not done by the team member, that should have been obvious to complete. The work completed by the member contains a few errors that must be corrected. The basic approach to problem solving is good, and the errors are relatively minor and could be readily corrected through normal peer review and checking. The work was corrected through consultation with the team members or faculty guide. The team member completed the task with virtually no errors or omissions. The work was accurate, and can be easily scaled to other applications or tasks that the team may encounter.
Professional and Ethical The team member has committed plagiarism, falsified data, ignored their responsibility as an engineer. The team member may have behaved inappropriately at a team event, or in a manner that reflects adversely on the team. The actions of the team member may cause the entire team to fail. The team member has overlooked some references or consistently fails to cite sources and conduct individual tasks. The team member may have made some off-color remarks or been offensive to a team-mate or other individual. The team member needs to clean up his or her act. The team member behaves responsibly and fully documents sources and collaborators on all work. The team member is a role model for others, and behaves in a professional and ethical fashion even under very trying and difficult circumstances.
Committed The team member is a burden to the rest of the team. The team member is carrying less than their fair share of the work load. The team member is carrying their fair share of the workload. The team member is carrying more than their fair share of the workload.
Peer Assessment - Completed by _____________
Member Name Punctual Thorough Accurate Professional and Ethical Committed Overall
Member 1
Member 2
Member 3
Member 4
Member 5
Member 6