Former/Retired Northrop Grumman Executive Provides Leadership in ME Capstone Design Class

Dr. Scott Shaffar, a former aerospace industry leader, joined the SDSU Mechanical Engineering faculty in August, and now serves as the instructor for the capstone design program.  Dr. Shaffar earned his B.S. in aerospace engineering from Cal Poly Pomona, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of California, Irvine.

Dr. Shaffar’s service at Northrop Grumman spanned 34 years and included engineering assignments covering wind tunnel testing, aircraft environmental control systems, propulsion systems, low observables technologies, combustion research, and advanced test and evaluation methods.  Dr. Shaffar also held progressive leadership positions across many disciplines including knowledge management, program management, supplier management, manufacturing, and mission assurance.  His career focused on both manned and unmanned aircraft programs with his final assignment as the mission assurance director for Northrop Grumman’s Autonomous Systems Division.

For the 2018-2019 Fall-Spring series ME capstone program that Dr. Shaffar is leading, there are a total of 174 students.  The capstone program framework for this year includes the application of project management and systems engineering processes coupled with a design cycle that progresses the students through project definition, requirements, research, design, fabrication, test and final system demonstration.  A key goal this year was to quickly get the students formed into teams and projects identified.  This was accomplished by the third week of the Fall semester, with 100% of the students assigned to teams and projects established.  We have a total of 30 project teams, with most teams comprised of 5 to 6 students.  Roughly 87% of these projects are sponsored from industry, faculty, non-profit organizations or external student competitions.  We also have collaborating faculty supporting our project teams from Aerospace Engineering and the Fowler College of Business.  The project topics are impressive, and include a wide range of design challenges such as aiding disabled veterans to participate in sports, improving farming methods in Ethiopia, solving high technology manufacturing problems, enabling faculty research with new test capabilities, creating a new waste treatment system for a local San Diego brewery, and removing debris from our oceans.  At the end of the fifth week, all of the teams completed a detailed project management plan and a systems requirement document.  The students are now in their research and design phases, which will culminate in a Critical Design Review in December.  The project teams will then transition to their fabrication, assembly and test phases during the Spring semester culminating in demonstrating their designs at our SDSU Design Day in May.