Table of Contents
Phase III: Prototyping and Implementation
To put your research and design into motion and produce a final product.
In this stage, you will create a build plan depending on the scope of your project, and then start building. The purpose of the build plan is to coordinate all the materials, resources and people-power. Work out a detailed, safe construction timeline. Consult faculty advisor and experienced people for constructive advice. Be sure to take into account safety issues and potential problems of the project. For obvious problems, come up with additional plans/contacts if necessary. Project leaders play a crucial role to push the project to continually progress. During this phase you may have to redesign some aspects of your project.
● Info Sheet: Take the information you compiled at the end of Phase II and create a 1-2 page document that you will be able to point possible sponsors and investors. This document is meant to be a quick way to sum up what your project is all about.
● Prototyping: The prototype tests the concepts used in the design phase, in a real-time, physical system to see where theory has problems being applied. These problems may be that your stress analyses didn’t account for some type of unanticipated loading or maybe it’s just too difficult to make/get a particular part.
Prototyping may take varying degrees of importance depending on your project. The prototype itself may BE your project. For example, the Battery Bank project (reconfiguring used Hybrid vehicle batteries into a usable battery pack) is entirely a prototype because they have to test to see what works.
There are three types of prototypes that can be created:
○ Crude Prototype: This is a very rough, physical model of your design. This can be made of very basic material such as Styrofoam or any other moldable material. Its main function is to provide a general size and feel of the project.
○ Working Prototype: The next step from a crude prototype is to finally test the function and dynamic features of the design. There may be many different working prototypes to test the different functions of the design. Each working prototype should be tested and evaluated, so the following prototype will improve the design.
○ Virtual Prototype: There are many computer programs that can be useful for testing and providing a visual concept for your design. Use CAD software to draft designs, and other simulation software to test the mechanical features and many other concepts that are involved in your design. Some designs can be very expensive to construct, whereas these drafting and simulation software can provide a relatively quick and cheap visualization and testing of your designs.
Whichever prototyping you do, make sure to evaluate it.
● Build: Follow your plan to set in motion a coordinated build effort. Ideally, you want to have it so parts come in when needed, you’ve prearranged for consultants and experts to give advice when needed and equipment is ready for material when you start working on it.
○ Example: If your plan tells you that you need a welding torch for Phase III, get the welding torch near the end of Phase II. It sounds obvious, but during the build process itself, your team can get caught up in the issues in front of them and not realize they needed to order the welding torch two days before they finished, not when they finished.
● Troubleshoot: The nature of the build process is often about troubleshooting. Expect problems to come up: parts not fitting, theoretical stress tolerances being incorrect, making a mistake on the only tube you had. When this happens, refer back to the Design diagram because it is the same process, just in real-time.
● Professional Fabrication: In any case that requires professional fabrication or assistance, the project team needs to ensure strong communication and collaboration with the professional. As much drawings and documents, with very detailed descriptions should be provided to the professional to avoid misconceptions of design. Again, this is why doing the design phase and a build plan is important
In some cases, it might be appropriate to make an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). MOU’s spell out CLEARLY what your team and the professional help are agreeing to. Talk to your Director if this is something you’ll be needing to do.
● Relax: Whether it’s the sheer amount of time and physical labor involved, or that your plans you developed for hours, days, weeks, maybe months aren’t working, the build process can be stressful. It’s helpful to take a step back to let your brain recuperate so you can address today’s problems more creatively tomorrow.
● Be mindful: You might be dealing with dangerous equipment (live circuits, power tools, large and heavy objects). Don’t take unnecessary risks. This is also why you should try to be well-rested.
● Implementation Notes: As always, the “what” and “when” of implementation notes will vary based on the project. You and your Director should make the final informed decision on when to do these things. But generally, it’s probably not good to start build your project before you know whether the stakeholders are okay with it being implemented. So either you or someone in your team should continue discussions with the stakeholders.
What to Submit:
Deliverable: Project Implementation Timeline
The gate review here is simple. Did you successfully do what you sought out to do? Set up a meeting time to present to the Board of Directors your projects accomplishments and developments while implementing your design and achieving your project mission. Contact the current Vice President of Project Management or your Director to set up an appointment.
Passing the Phase:
You and your team will implement your design while accounting for any unforeseen mishaps along the way. Once your design is implemented and your project mission has been succeeded then you will present to the Board of Directors how your implementation went.