The 2010 Capstone Design Conference
Boulder, CO, USA
Graduate Projects is a two-semester course sequence designed to introduce interdisciplinary Masters and Ph.D. students to project management and systems engineering while working a complex aerospace engineering sciences project. Students are organized in project teams of a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 15–20 students. A department professor or instructor works directly with each project team, acting as an adviser, and frequently, customer for the project. The teams are structured with all of the personnel positions normally found in a government or industry project team. The team members themselves select the two leadership positions of Project Manager and Systems Engineer. The teams must plan their work within typical budget and time constraints common to all projects. They are required to prepare and present decision gate reviews using presentation methods of their choosing. They are also required to maintain accurate and thorough documentation of their activities and design choices. The students are also introduced to intellectual property protection, technology transfer considerations and entrepreneurial opportunities for new and innovative designs. All project students attend a weekly lecture covering these topics with the major focus on learning project management and systems engineering skills that may be applied directly to their project work.
Joe Tanner University of Colorado
Scott Palo University of Colorado
All courses change – either by plan or by necessity. When changes must be made by necessity, the transition can often be abrupt, leading to disruptive but transformative change. One cause of such change can be the unexpected changes in the management of such a course. These unanticipated opportunities can be used to address a wide variety of issues within courses, ranging from student concerns, faculty and curricular concerns and client desires. While planned changes and implementations would be preferable, the time for change is when an opportunity appears. This paper describes a set of changes made to the senior design program in the month leading up to the Fall 2009 semester and during the first semester when an opportunity for change asserted itself. Many of these changes have been successfully implemented and received, although a few remain works in progress. In the end, the only constant is that change will continue to happen.
Cameron J. Turner 1, Candace Sulzbach 1, Jeff Schowalter 1
1 Colorado School of Mines
Since nearly the inception of the Capstone program at Brigham Young University (BYU) in 1990, it has been our practice to provide intellectual property (IP) rights to project sponsoring companies. This policy has helped BYU successfully recruit and complete 545 Capstone projects from throughout the world. Providing IP rights to sponsoring companies enables BYU to identify appropriate design and build projects even in tough economic times enabling our students to be taught the design process and to help our students learn the practice of engineering. This paper provides a program overview of BYU’s Capstone program and its intellectual property history including the experiences gained by students working on industry sponsored projects with intellectual property, and presents recent survey findings demonstrating the importance of providing intellectual property to sponsoring companies when recruiting Capstone projects.
Gregg M. Warnick and Robert H. Todd Brigham Young University
The Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering programs at California State University Chico conclude with a common two-semester course sequence in capstone design. Projects are generally sponsored by industry and all work is accomplished in teams. The first semester focuses on design while the second is dedicated to building and testing a working prototype. The department also houses a degree program in Manufacturing Technology. A new paradigm has been instituted that integrates the manufacturing technology program into engineering capstone design.
A major element of capstone design at California State University Chico is the requirement that student groups build and test a working prototype. In many cases, prototype construction becomes an unintended hurdle for completion of capstone course requirements, as many engineering students do not possess basic fabrication skills such as machining and welding. By contrast, students in the manufacturing technology program do possess these skills, and also require practice in their application as part of their curriculum.
In the new paradigm, manufacturing students work with engineering project teams during prototype design and construction. The manufacturing students don’t just “make parts,” but consult on many aspects of the project with a focus on design for manufacture. They offer insights into the manufacturability of proposed designs, and even suggest minor design changes that often substantially ease fabrication and significantly reduce cost without altering the end function of the design.
The new paradigm takes advantage of the differing focus of the programs as well as the unique skill sets of their students to the mutual benefit of both.
Gregory Watkins 1, Anthony Arena 2
1California State University Chico
2California State University Chico – Manufacturing Technology Student
The communication requirements associated with the instruction of a Capstone Design course can be extensive. This paper describes a utility used to simplify and improve communication between the instruction team members, and communication from the instruction team to the student design groups. This resource is part of a larger suite of tools that make use of a MySQL database to keep record of information. The communication tool is accessed through a web-browser connected to the database via a secure Apache web server and CGI scripts written using the Tool Command Language. The display of student identification photographs has allowed the instruction team to deliver personalized instruction even with large class sizes. This tool has been continually developed over the last five years using exclusively open-source or freely-available software and has greatly streamlined the communication required during instruction of Capstone Design courses.
Loren Wyard-Scott University of Alberta
This paper describes the process involved in setting up and advising off-campus electrical and computer engineering senior capstone design projects being conducted by U.S.-based undergraduate students in Limerick, Ireland. Insights into the educational objectives and outcomes, project program logistics, financial support, faculty involvement, and future developments of this specific project site will be presented. These capstone projects conducted in Limerick can serve as a model for providing more US-based electrical and computer engineering students with opportunities for meaningful experiences when studying abroad such that they can obtain a better understanding of the impact of engineering within a global context.
Alexander M. Wyglinski, Richard F. Vaz, John A. McNeill, Donald R. Brown III and Fred J. Looft III Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Like many computing and engineering programs, final practicum projects or capstone projects have been recognized to be essential in the Bachelor of Technology program in Computer Systems at the British Columbia Institute of Technology to provide students with relevant and practical skills before graduation. In order to make further distinctions between regular course projects and capstone projects, students in the program are required to include an innovation component in the latter. The objective is for students to explore some areas of computing that they have not been formally taught in their courses, to develop deep thinking and cognitive skills, and to become independent learners as they enter into the computing profession. This is particular crucial as changes in computing / IT technologies are especially fast and successful IT workers need to have an aptitude to embrace such rapid changes and be able to integrate their current knowledge with new developments, and to take advantage of them as needs arise. This paper describes the overall practicum projects, with special focus on the innovation requirement, how these are evaluated, and examples of how this requirement can be fulfilled in different areas of computing. The benefits of the practicum projects with the innovative requirement to student learning are also investigated based on pedagogical theories.
Benjamin Yu, Elsie Au British Columbia Institute of Technology
A common challenge faced by faculty serving as coaches for student teams in multidisciplinary capstone design courses is the lack of teaching paradigms that can be called upon to serve as a guide when making pedagogical and team-management decisions. We have addressed this challenge by creating a document entitled IPPD Coach Guide: A Resource for Mentoring Project Teams that compiles a set of best practices and catalogs available program resources with the goal of enhancing the coach’s effectiveness in directing the evolution of the design project and assisting the students in reaching all learning objectives. The guide serves as a tool that enables the propagation of pedagogical techniques, identifies all available administrative and material resources, and archives the program’s historically acquired know-how basis. This paper describes the mechanics followed to arrive at the generation of the guide, including the methodology used for harvesting collective knowledge from the most experienced faculty coaches, using techniques ranging from a directed faculty-retreat event to systematic idea mapping and management approaches such as a challenge-question environment and the adoption of affinity-group analysis. The guide also serves to recruit and train new coaches, to establish policies, and to serve as a contextual framework for extramural program reviews. A brief overview of the contents of the guide is provided including succinct representative examples of the material included. The guide may serve as an example tool that could be of utility to other capstone design courses interested in promoting improved uniformity in quality of pedagogical delivery and increased coach effectiveness.
R. Keith Stanfill and Oscar D. Crisalle University of Florida
This paper will share our experiences with adapting an open-source, Source Control Management (SCM) and project management tool for use by multidisciplinary product development teams and remote sponsor clients. Students working together to create design project artifacts such as reports, presentations, digital models, and software quickly learn that relying on their personal computers and e-mail accounts for collaboration and storage of the most up-to-date content leads to disaster. One can never be sure that they are working on the latest version of the digital file. Project failure is one hard disk crash, e-mail inbox overflow, or home network crash away. Further, external clients (project sponsors), may be uncomfortable with company-sensitive data residing on student personal computers. Providing on-campus laboratories can help, but requiring students to come in to the lab to do project work reduces the hours that students can contribute—especially if their most productive hours are outside of the lab hours. Restricting project data to in-lab access also precludes external client collaboration. To satisfy the needs of the project teams and the project sponsors, an open-source web-based system was customized to provide a wiki, project tracking tools, and integration with a Source Control Management (SCM) tool. Participating students, faculty, staff, and sponsor clients all have authorization-based network access to team data. SCM tools have been found to be effective for managing any documents produced by the teams and provide recovery from document handling mishaps such as deletions and lost drafts. The tool helps the teams impose a structured approach to developing collaborative documents.
R. Keith Stanfill and Ethan I. Blackwelder University of Florida
Designing a capstone experience to simulate the industrial environment provides excellent preparation for students’ lives after graduation. To determine this environment, current industry practices are modeled from approximately 20 hours of interviews with developers, testers and project managers in consulting, development and information technology departments. The results of these interviews are synthesized into a new course.
Greg Speegle Baylor University
Mechanical engineering students in the capstone design course showed difficulty in writing coherent and well organized final reports, despite required technical writing classes presented by the English department, as well as 1-2 lectures during the Capstone design course. An engineering professor with strong writing skills was hired on an adjunct basis to provide lectures geared more specifically toward the students’ needs, as well as detailed written and oral feedback. These lectures included active discussion of examples of good and bad writing, where students were challenged to evaluate examples of past reports and executive summaries. The writing instructor read and gave detailed comments on 3 reports per team, meeting with the team for a 20 minute discussion after the second report. This approach, while time consuming for the writing instructor, gave the students feedback that was perceived as more valuable by the students, making them more likely to act on the feedback. The results were improved reports, as well as a reduction in workload for the faculty advisors for each team.
Bridget M. Smyser and Gregory Kowalski Northeastern University
This paper raises points of discussion related to the teaching of product design in chemical and biological engineering capstone design courses. Product design is emerging as an essential job function of our graduates to a degree not experienced by previous generations of chemical and biological engineers. This is accompanied by a waning of the significance of process design. Key constituencies such as ABET, future employers, and our student populations might all be satisfied by rigorous product design projects, if they are properly executed. However, product design projects may not satisfy the traditionally established criteria of chemical and biological engineering capstone design courses. As we reconcile these differences, chemical and biological engineering programs should be open to cues from other engineering disciplines, which have decades of experience in capstone design courses that teach product design, and should also consider input from partners in industrial practice who can help us define the skill sets that our graduating engineers require.
T. Gordon Smith and Matt J. Kipper Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Colorado State University
The Shell Eco-marathon is an international event that challenges students to design, build and test vehicles that use the least amount of fuel to travel the farthest distance. Undergraduate mechanical engineering students at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) have participated in this competition during the past three years within their capstone design course sequence. Data was collected and tracked over the past two years that examined the students’: 1) goals after completion of their undergraduate degree, 2) perceived competency in various project activities, and 3) perception of including various topics in the course sequence. It was found that: 1) the students had an increased desire to pursue an engineering career, 2) the students significantly improved in various design and engineering related skills and 3) that the vast majority of the students felt that participating in a design competition against other schools was extremely important.
Matthew T. Siniawski 1 and Dhruv Patel 2
1 - Loyola Marymount University, 2 - The Aerospace Corporation
How the House of Quality may be used to address several key issues facing capstone courses today is discussed. As an example, an overview of the implementation of the House of Quality in the Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering Senior Capstone Design Course at Oregon State University is given. The information presented may be employed in a wide variety of capstone design course curriculums in an effort to enrich both the student and faculty experience.
Ben Sherrett, John P Parmigiani Oregon State University
In this paper, the CES capstone design course at UW, Tacoma is introduced. In this two-quarter course, seniors are required to work with freshmen-level CES students. They take on a project leader’s role and provide the freshmen “interns” with the opportunity to learn how projects are developed and to participate in the development. Objectives, organizations, as well as outcomes of this course are presented. In the end, future plans to improve the teaching and learning experience are discussed.
Jie Sheng, Larry Wear and Orlando Baiocchi University of Washington, Tacoma
Effectively conveying information to a large number of students in a timely manner may be a daunting task. In addition, collection, evaluation and return of student assignments are demanding both logistically and practically. Add a budget driven, enforced migration away from proprietary course management software, and the challenges become even more intimidating. The College of Engineering two-semester capstone interdisciplinary senior design sequence is comprised of students from four departments and eight majors. Enrollment in this course has been steadily increasing and was in excess of 200 students in a combined lecture in the fall of 2009. To address the challenges inherent in a course of this size and to effectively serve a student population of such diverse backgrounds and experience, the instructional team has developed a comprehensive tool utilizing open source course management software. The software package adopted by the university provides a centralized virtual community for students, faculty and external participants. The implementation of this offering, along with the necessary innovations and lessons learned, will be discussed in this work.
Peter Schmidt, Deborah Sharer, Dan Hoch, Nan Bousaba, Steve Patterson, Bruce Gehrig and Jim Conrad The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
A capstone design course involves multiple complexities which make its teaching conspicuously challenging1,2; e.g., sponsors’ requirements, team dynamics, and available resources, as well as the usual engineering educational goals. At the core of the challenge is assessment – giving each student a fair final grade. In this paper we describe a holistic approach to developing a fair and accurate evaluation for individual students in multidisciplinary teams. The approach includes assessment of communication, team participation, design process, and project results, with input from students and sponsors to calibrate the evaluations of the instructor teams. In addition, we adopted a new team teaching approach that facilitates multidisciplinary participation; and also made grading processes more objective by separating roles associated with instructor coaching and judging. Furthermore, implementation of a communication intensive requirement provided greater insight into individual student contributions. The holistic approach allows greater consistency in the grading process, yet is flexible enough to handle a wide variety of multidisciplinary design projects. We submit that the basic structure of the assessment (i.e., blending objectives with procedural justice and evaluation from multiple sources) is consistent with practices in industry that students will face after their graduation.
Mark W. Steiner, Junichi Kanai, Richard Alben, Cheng Hsu, Lester Gerhardt Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
As innovation and entrepreneurship are the major drivers of economic growth, prosperity, and quality of life, tomorrow’s engineers not only will need a solid technical background, but also must be equipped with new skills associated with globalization, innovation, entrepreneurship in order to compete, succeed and lead in the future global marketplace. In the practice of WPI’s China Project Center, a set of hands-on practical exercises to supplement the existing engineering curriculum with the aim to develop students’ integrated skills in these areas so that they are armed with technical skill as well as business knowledge and become more valuable inside an organization. For recent five years in the China Project Center, a growing number of WPI students have traveled to China, working with selected Chinese students from a top engineering school in mixed teams and performing their senior projects of solving real world problems. The projects have been sponsored by global companies with China operations. One of the goals of the project center is to integrate entrepreneurship in senior projects; provide opportunities of practicing entrepreneurial skills with real world problems; and to integrate and practice the entrepreneurship in global economy and multi-cultural environment. Additionally, we provide opportunities for WPI students to practice their knowledge and skills in unfamiliar cultural environments; and explore an effective way to educate a professional workforce with better understanding of the cultural and technical issues in international business.
Yiming (Kevin) Rong Worcester Polytechnic Institute
This paper discusses implementing content management systems and virtual servers in a university capstone course and how these tools can improve a capstone course. In our capstone course, students work on real-world projects sponsored by local and regional businesses. Student teams follow a well-defined process which specifies the actions they must perform (e.g. requirements gathering, software design, etc.) and the work products they must create (e.g. software test plan, weekly reports, project schedules, etc.). This creates a need for a content management system and project management tools which store the work products produced by the teams and allow team members to easily collaborate on the project. During the last two years, we have worked to migrate from using existing solutions (Blackboard E-portfolios, TWiki sites, and other tools.) to using Subversion, Trac, and VMware ESXi. This paper discusses our experiences implementing these applications and the benefits that using these applications provide over other solutions which we have used previously.
Alex Radermacher, Adam Helsene, and Dean Knudson North Dakota State University
The first-year engineering curriculum at Ohio Northern University includes a one year course sequence culminating in a one quarter capstone design course. A requirement for projects to involve the design of a poverty alleviation device was recently introduced. The initial implementation required student teams to identify an impoverished country (using the World Bank’s definition) and address a specific need of the population. The project requirements include following and documenting the engineering design process, preparation of a proposal, regular verbal and written status reports and development and presentation of a prototype. The poverty alleviation requirement has allowed students to directly experience multiple learning outcomes as specified in ABET assessment criteria including understanding engineering in a global and societal context, along with criteria typically found in a capstone course such as the ability to function in teams and to communicate effectively. Quantitative and qualitative assessment of the project showed that students felt the experience related to societal and realistic constraints. Future iterations of the class will require devices be designed toward poverty alleviation for a persona rather than a country; the goal is to emphasize the human aspect of the students’ design. Personas have been developed based on an actual senior capstone experience in Kenya.
Kenneth J. Reid 1 and John K. Estell 1
1Ohio Northern University
Whereas many capstone projects involve the design and fabrication of some prototype product, the emphasis of this semester-long exercise in cooperative project management is a functioning lean manufacturing work cell. Student teams begin with a set of prints to develop the process flow and fixtures required to implement the lean production of a product involving the assembly of several parts, beginning with stock materials. The design challenges are two-fold: create a lean production process and design work-holding devices required to achieve the process plan. The manufacturing cell involves integrating work stations that employ a variety of levels of automation: manually controlled drill press, two-axis CNC machining, and an articulated arm robot. Classmates perform the labor to fabricate the products utilizing a kanban system and work instructions created by the design teams. Each design team is required to submit a set of Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) documents which detail the component designs, process planning, quality assurance, and production control of their product.
Louis G. Reifschneider Illinois State University
The mechanical engineering department at the University of Colorado has initiated a new design program for its graduate students. The core of this program is a three course sequence, Advanced Product Design, Graduate Design Projects 1 and Graduate Design Projects 2. The subject matter covered in the core courses was developed at multiple meetings held by the design faculty, members of the electrical engineering faculty and executives from industry who had extensive design experience. A broad range of product design related subjects and materials were suggested as subject matter for the core courses, and ranged from engineering economics to usercentered design to designing with ambiguity. Many of these subjects could be taught as a course within themselves. A rating system was established so that the most important materials related to product design were taught in these three core classes. A relatively large team of instructors were established to teach these three courses, with a few of the instructors coming from industry. The first course in the sequence, Advanced Product Design, was taught in the Spring of 2010. It is lecture based but with a team project theme associated with the course. The Graduate Design Projects courses will be first taught in the Fall of 2010 and Spring of 2011 semesters. While there will be some lectures in the graduate design projects course sequence, the focus will be on projects. The project teams established for this course will be interdisciplinary, with the projects coming from industry, the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, and product ideas from the Advanced Product Design course. The immediate popularity of this Design Track program was exhibited with approximately 15% of the existing Master’s degree graduate students registering for this program within three months of it being offered. Additionally, the enrollment in the Advanced Product Design class has exceeded its limit of 40 students.
Mark E. Rentschler and Jack L. Zable University of Colorado
The engineering senior design experience is now firmly entrenched in engineering curricula. However, as many faculty teaching senior capstone design recognize, the identification, screening, selection and financing of design projects remains at best a challenging task. As indicated in the literature, trends suggest that over time, more competitions are being included in the portfolio of capstone engineering projects. This article focuses specifically on guidelines for considering the use of competition projects in capstone design classes. In addition as reference, this article provides a sampling of over 30 national competition projects that are currently used by some universities as senior design projects in single or multidisciplinary capstone courses.
Linda Ann Riley, Ph.D. Roger Williams University
This work describes the educational experience gained in the Senior Design Course, a fourth year course in the undergraduate Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) program at Georgia Southern University (GSU). The main topic of this course is concentrated on a team-based, two-semester-long project in which students design and build mobile robots for different applications. The authors present their experiences in using the topic of mobile robotics as the main subject for the senior design course, with focus in interdisciplinary interactions and teamwork for the design and implementation of autonomous mobile robots that have been able to participate in different robotic competitions. The paper provides motivations and background information, describes the senior design organization and the description of the projects involving the autonomous vehicles developed and their main characteristics. The paper concludes with a summary and recommendations for future work.
Fernando Ríos-Gutiérrez and Rocio Alba-Flores METEET Department, Georgia Southern University
The multi-disciplinary capstone program in the College of Technology and Innovation at Arizona State University was designed to provide a learning experience that is based on open-ended relevant problems and one that enhances a student’s connection to industry, government, and graduate education. The capstone experience brings together students from different disciplines as well as students that have learned through different pedagogical models. All students in the engineering program are engaged in multidisciplinary capstone projects. The engineering program is grounded on a unique project-based curriculum that prepares student to continue learning in a multi-disciplinary team structure. Students are assessed in the program through oral presentations, oral examinations, presentation of a portfolio, on capstone reports, and by the capstone sponsor. Assessment is based on four dimensions of development in eight areas. In the first year of implementation 12 multi-disciplinary capstone projects were conducted. This will be expanded to approximately 20 projects next year. Most of these projects are sponsored by industry. Currently there are students from five different degree programs working on the capstone teams. Next year this will also be expanded. Early evaluation of the multi-disciplinary capstones are very positive.
Chell Roberts and Scott Danielson College of Technology and Innovation
At Grand Valley State University the senior capstone designs have included many industry based projects. The projects are primarily design and build over a two semester course sequence. This paper summarizes the design process used for the 2009 projects and uses two case studies to highlight some of the differences between product design and manufacturing equipment design.
Christopher Pung Grand Valley State University
This paper reports on development, implementation, and adoption of best practices in the redesign of the mechanical engineering capstone design sequence at the University of Rhode Island during 2007-2009. Rethinking of the approach and pedagogy in capstone design also provided an opportunity for us to develop new assessment instruments and rubrics for evaluation of the design projects. A list of assessment instruments that we have created or adopted based on review of best practices in the literature, peer surveys, and our own experience is presented. Rubrics are provided for two of the major assessment instruments: critical design review and preliminary design report. Consistent assessment instruments and associated rubrics have proven to be an essential element of preparing student teams for successful design project experiences and evaluation of their work.
Bahram Nassersharif and Carl-Ernst Rousseau University of Rhode Island
The Engineering Science Department at Trinity University has made several changes to its capstone design course organization in order to increase student understanding and application of ABET’s Criterion 3. Criterion 3 states, in part, that a student should be able to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability. The proposal process in Senior Design (ENGR-4381 and 4382) now evaluates the impact of these constraints on the project. Students are also led through several case studies addressing subsets of these constraints on example projects, discuss in class possible effects of these constraints on this year’s projects, and finally write a paper reflecting on the possible effects of a few of the most relevant of these constraints on their project. This paper reviews assessment data from before these changes, explains more fully the changes that have been implemented, and presents assessment data from students in the current course structure.
Kevin Nickels Trinity University
The idesign program builds off a long history of successful international development research, education, and service at Michigan Tech, yet provides a substantial offering at a time when many undergraduates feel ready to contribute their engineering skills to the world. This program positions students to assist rural communities in Panama through a three course sequence, one preparatory to, and one synthesizing after a two week in-country field experience. Working on small teams, students are tasked with planning and executing field engineering, culminating in design recommendations to project partners and community members. The 2009 offering produced two water projects and two bridge projects in four small communities in western Panama. Preliminary assessment analysis shows that program yielded positive impacts on students’ intercultural, professional, and personal development. Findings also suggest program improvements should focus on language, cultural, and community studies prior to the in-country phase.
Kurtis Paterson, David Watkins, Jr., and Michael Drewyor Michigan Technological University
Faculty knowledge and beliefs structures impact the practices that teachers use in their courses in a wide variety of ways. In this paper, we focus on beliefs about student identity and the impact of those beliefs on teaching in the capstone course. Specifically, prior research suggests that faculty who view students as children will use pedagogical practices that are teacher centered, whereas faculty who view students as adults will generally prescribe to andragogical practices that are student centered. To examine pedagogy versus andragogy at the capstone level, this study utilizes data from a recent national survey of capstone faculty to compare the practices of those who believe students are essentially still children to those who believe they are adults. The findings indicate that faculty with high andragogical perspectives promote the self-directed learning and professional development of their students more than faculty that tend to have a pedagogical perspective of their students.
James J. Pembridge 1 and Marie Paretti 1
Worcester Polytechnic Institute established global project centers over 35 years ago. Since then, WPI’s global network has grown to more than 25 locations on five continents. Some 7,000 students have completed off-campus projects in that time. The majority of such centers focus on interdisciplinary work for junior-level students. More recently, opportunities for international capstone design experiences for senior-level students have been developed. In Panama, the objective was to collaborate with consulting, industry and government organizations to expose students to the challenges and opportunities of working in a Latin country undergoing extensive construction and development. In particular, it was desired to expose students to the Panama Canal Expansion project which was started in 2006 and is estimated to span eight years and cost over $5 billion. This massive civil and environmental engineering project to widen and deepen the canal channels is intended to increase the canal capacity and provide economic benefits to the country. Through development of the project center, it was found that in-country support is critical to ensuring good project pedagogy and arranging logistics for the students.
Jeanine D. Plummer Worcester Polytechnic Institute
The purpose of this Professional Practice Program is to further establish the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology (ECST) at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) as a recognized world class provider of professional practice experiences for its Engineering, and Computer Science students while enhancing our ability to recruit and retain the highest potential students. Outcomes achieved over the past two years include a sponsored Professional Practices Program, a sponsored Corporate Scholars Program and nine founding Strategic Corporate Partners committed to the program: The Aerospace Corporation, The Boeing Company, DirecTV, Heateflex, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, and Southern California Edison. In its second year, the college retained all nine founding partners and welcomed six new partners including: EmCycle, Medtronic MiniMed, Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona, Space Systems Loral, and Southern California Gas Company. Currently, we have four departments collaborating on senior design projects: Mechanical, Electrical, Computer Science, and Technology.
Keith Moo-Young Dean, College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology California State University, Los Angeles
This paper discusses the difficulties encountered when a team of Mechanical Engineering students attempt to elicit requirements during their Capstone Design Project. Specifically, the students attempt to elicit requirements for handicapped individual, users of whom they could not empathize with. To assist the students, they are introduced to the use of personas as a design tool. Through the use of such a design tool, make significant gains in their requirement elicitation efforts. Furthermore, the students are able to possess a much greater understanding of the design problem and the users of the device. Upon completing the project, the students are surveyed on their experience to elicit requirements and the difference encountered when making use of a design tool. The findings in this paper encourage students to explore the use of design tools and for professors to make aware to students the host of design tools available for their use.
Beshoy Morkos, Joshua D. Summers Clemson University
A Capstone Design program including companion design courses has been developed that has become an integral and important component of the Mechanical Engineering curriculum. A variety of challenging projects are created each year to appeal to student academic and career interests. Students work in teams with the assistance of a faculty advisor to tackle a significant mechanical engineering design project. The formation of student teams can be a challenging and time consuming process that is critical to the success of the design project and the course experience.
Successful student teams should include enthusiastic, motivated and engaged students as they must address the project over the academic year of the Fall, Winter and Spring quarters. The student team should also include satisfactory skills, technical or academic expertise required for each project. By including student preferences in the team formation process and careful assessment of student strengths and weaknesses, the development of a high performance Capstone project team is more likely to occur.
Stephen Laguette University of California, Santa Barbara
This paper provides an overview description and discussion of the WPI fourth year project requirement known as the Major Qualifying Project, or simply MQP. Topics covered include a description of the requirement, implementation paradigms, an evolving base of project opportunities and programs, and global capstone program development challenges.
Fred J. Looft Worcester Polytechnic Institute
This paper documents the initial efforts to create a globally distributed Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design Course at Texas A&M. Collaborating student teams were split between Texas A&M College Station and Texas A&M Qatar in Doha Qatar. The initial effort featured two different projects. One project was a product for deepsea oil field applications. The other project was a simulator to be used for training new wheel chair users. Student ability to adapt to the challenges associated with globally distributed engineering was high. Project collaboration was successfully achieved through email, internet user groups, and video conferences. Instructor collaboration and consistency between the collaborating campuses was the least well-solved challenge of the project. To improve instructor consistency in the future, the creation of detailed grading rubrics is suggested.
Daniel A. McAdams and Julie S. Linsey Texas A&M University
The Masters of Engineering in Space Engineering Program at the University of Michigan focuses on developing systems engineering skills for future space systems engineers. The program centers on three courses - two courses taken in the students’ final two terms, focusing on core systems engineering skills, and an independent study course for further application of these skills. The focus of all three courses is experiential learning through the design of space missions. In an effort to make the learning experience as realistic as possible, missions are chosen that either directly involve flight missions, or that have a clear path to a flight mission, some of which have led to significant follow-on efforts outside the program. This hands-on, flight program emphasis is made possible by using resources from the university as well as external sources to integrate flight opportunities into the program. This paper describes the program and gives specific examples and lessons learned from past coursework to demonstrate the integration of real-world experiences into the curriculum.
Darren McKague and Thomas H. Zurbuchen College of Engineering, University of Michigan
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has long embraced a project-based curriculum that now extends around the globe. WPI is committed to providing students and faculty with a safe and healthy experience off-campus making sure educators have the skills to help students succeed educationally as well as cope with safety, social, and behavioral issues. This paper will discuss our Global Perspective Program, philosophy with regard to risk management, health and safety issues in study abroad and describe a model for training as we equip faculty to handle unconventional roles beyond the classroom.
Natalie A. Mello Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Juniata’s capstone course in information technology, Innovations for Industry (I4I), is a three semester sequence. Information Technology majors take the first course during their junior year, which is comprised of three credits of project management and one credit of project experience. Then as seniors they take four credits of I4I project experience in both the fall and spring semesters. In I4I, students are organized into groups to work on IT projects for both local clients (typically central Pennsylvania), and remote clients, who are accommodated though teleconferencing. These clients include forprofit business, non-profit organizations, service organizations and government agencies. The student groups function as project development teams, applying IT solutions to opportunities and problems specific to their clients. Over the course of three semesters the students are exposed to many aspects of systems analysis, design, development, and implementation, as possible, in addition to applying project management tools and techniques. Student roles in the projects include: developer, designer, project manager, and tester/quality controller. Minors in Information Technology take the first course, typically in their senior year, while students from other disciplines, such as computer science, business, or communication might be recruited to serve as specific content experts on teams. In addition to the pedagogical benefits of a capstone course, students have found these projects often lead to fulltime employment, as well as internship opportunities for underclassman. Juniata benefits by being able to showcase its Information Technology students, as well as having a mechanism for feedback from the clients on both the skill sets of the students and possible modifications to the curriculum.
Gerald Kruse, William Thomas Juniata College
Students in capstone design courses often face a variety of safety issues due to the diverse nature of design projects. The safety program was originally developed for the School of Engineering (SOE) fabrication shops at Rensselaer and addressed safety issues associated with building prototype systems. It has grown and matured over the years, and students can work with SOE Safety Committee members and other experts on campus to deal with their safety needs. The collaborative efforts enable and empower students to follow-through with their designs. At the same time, they assist the students to learn and practice safety in their projects.
Junichi Kanai, Samuel Chiappone, William Fahey, and Theresa Sommer Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
The capstone project in software engineering is a quite important class for the students in order to enter a successful professional career. Therefore it is essential to choose an interesting topic for such a project, both from the student’s as well as the future employer’s point of view. In addition capstone projects may be an important foundation for future research projects for the instructor. In the last couple of years we have experimented with several different types of such projects with different levels of success achieved. In this paper we try to summarize our experiences by deriving important influential parameters that have a high potential of leading to a successful and appealing project for students. While some of the parameters seem reasonable as a general success factor, others may also be specific to a certain project or team. We feel we have a sufficient base of experience to differentiate those types, even though results are not statistically significant due to small numbers. We will also evaluate how the different parameters act together and derive some interdependencies.
Carsten Kleiner 1, Arne Koschel 1
1University of Applied Sciences & Arts Hannover, Germany
NDSU has conducted over 50 very successful Computer Science capstone team projects in the past four years, for companies including Microsoft, IBM, Rockwell Collins, Thomson Reuters, 3M, ATK, Polaris, West Corp. and John Deere. This paper will describe our capstone program and briefly relate the evolution of our software development and project management processes. In particular we have implemented processes that follow standard project management phases (initiation, planning, execution, control and closure) as well as built software development processes that follow the SEI’s CMMI model. These processes are applicable to any small team, short-duration project environment but are specifically tailored to computer science capstone projects.
Dean Knudson and Alex Radermacher North Dakota State University
Project courses can be organized efficiently in different forms involving teams of students. They provide the student with a work experience similar to industry practice. However, they present a serious challenge to fair grading of individual students. There is the possibility that some students put in an enormous amount of work and others try to get a good grade with little effort. As the advising faculty member is not with the team at all times, there may be many activities by the team that go unnoticed. The adviser has the continuous challenge to find out which students perform and which students do not perform. The advisers must have a selection of instruments at hand that allow for best possible fair grading of team members.
Jean N. Koster University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0429
This paper describes a six credit year-long capstone course for teams of students from different disciplines working on interdisciplinary projects. The course is required for the degree of Master of Science in Sustainability, a newly introduced graduate program at the City College of New York. The program, Sustainability in the Urban Environment, integrates the disciplines of architecture, engineering and science. Team members from different disciplines work together on sustainability problems. Course motivation, objectives, outcomes, evaluation plans, and conduct are discussed. A sample of course material prepared by a team of instructors is presented. This material describes project topics and includes a sample guideline to facilitate project supervision.
Latif M. Jiji The City College of the City University of New York
This paper discusses a case-study for investigating the loss of design information in collaborative design projects. The case-study was conducted with senior mechanical engineering students at Clemson University working collaboratively on a semester long Senior Design Capstone project. The case study findings indicate that there is a potential loss of design information in collaborative groups. The design information, if archived systematically, can help future designers to review the past design and build upon the existing ideas to come with better or new solutions.
Shraddha Joshi, Joshua D. Summers Clemson University
The WPI Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department is working with North American engineering and design firm, Stantec, to conduct undergraduate student projects at Stantec office locations throughout the US and Canada. Students are advised remotely by on-campus faculty members and on-site by Stantec personnel. This paper describes how these off-campus projects help meet the CEE Department’s capstone design experience degree requirements and concludes with points of interest for others that may wish to adopt a similar learning experience.
Frederick L. Hart 1, Klaas Rodenburg 2, Suzanne LePage 1
1Worcester Polytechnic Institute
2Stantec, Edmonton, AB
Industry partners play valuable roles in the senior project courses for computing and engineering students. The partners act as mentors, assessors, advisors, and project sponsors. Interaction between the students, faculty and industry partners stands to benefit all of the participants and enhances the senior project course and the students’ academic experience.
Sharon P. Hall, Vernon Bryant, Mary Randolph-Gips, and George Collins University of Houston-Clear Lake
Engineers and industrial designers place heavy emphasis on identification of customer needs, manufacturing methods, and prototyping. Industrial designers focus on aesthetics, ease of use, and the user’s experience. Engineers tend to focus on functionality, analytical modeling, and design validation. Collaboration between the two groups on capstone design courses teaches each to respect and value the unique contributions each brings to the project team and results in improved design solutions. Experiences with engineering/industrial design collaborations in capstone design project teams at Marquette University, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, and University of Cincinnati are presented.
Jay R. Goldberg 1, Pascal Malassigne 2 and Mary Beth Privitera 3
2Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
3University of Cincinnati
The following paper describes our experience working with student design teams in a two-quarter capstone course in civil engineering. Each student completes a survey that defines his or her academic coursework, industrial experience, status with respect to Engineer-In-Training (EIT) certification, current grade point average, and experience with computer-aided design software. The course instructors use this information to subdivide the class into six-person teams, ensuring that each team has a comparable degree of background and experience. The teams are multi-disciplinary in that each member is assigned a specific role that relates to his or her elective coursework and industrial experience. After forming teams, the students complete a three-part, month-long lesson on communication. The lesson includes presentations and activities that focus on team building, active listening, communication styles, and assertiveness. These lessons are described in the paper. The intent of the lessons is to prepare the students to successfully interact and work together over the six-month course sequence. The approach to forming and preparing student teams has proven successful, as evidenced by peer evaluations and by project assessments completed by faculty and local engineering professionals.
Gregg L. Fiegel, PhD, PE, GE 1, Jay S. DeNatale, PhD, PE 1
1 California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
The Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) caters to a unique and diverse population of students. The students entering the program are divided between individuals fresh out of high school and preparing to pursue degrees full-time with an expectation of completion in four years and those who have already begun careers in industry and are seeking to improve their opportunities for advancement and whose expectation for graduation is further in the future. Thus, in catering to this diverse community of students, IUPUI‟s MET program has experimented with some innovative, and non-traditional, approaches to course design. One area where this innovation has proved noteworthy is in the design of the MET capstone course, where three different formats are employed in an effort to meet the needs of the student population. This paper discusses one of those options, aimed at enhancing program management skills, which stretches the boundaries of capstone pedagogy and tradition.
Pete Hylton Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
The objective of this paper is to propose an engineering design educational pedagogy on how to improve the engineering design learning experience. The design engineering activity is a complex mix of skills and knowledge that has been taught over decades by directly delivering to the students the design methodologies developed by design researchers and by exposing the students to open ended projects that can develop their design skills. From this we can conclude that the three main pedagogical components of a successful educational design experience are: the design skills, the design methods and the design projects. On one hand, the individual design skills must be properly developed in the student prior to the project experience, making it an overwhelming challenge. On the other hand the design methodologies can be difficult to implement didactically (i.e. teaching techniques), therefore the student struggles to learn, and even more important, to embrace such methodologies.
We present an approach to teach design engineering methods through three main steps: First, decompose the desired knowledge to be acquired by the student during the learning process in specific types of characteristics. Second, organize the characteristics of the methods by learning levels. Third, generate educational objectives for each of the characteristics of the engineering design method.
Noe Vargas Hernandez
Gabriel Davila Rangel
University of Texas at El Paso
This model provided exercises and deliverables in accordance with industry practices that enabled students to develop basic product development and project management skills. Students participated in team and project selection, then were guided through exercises to assess clinical and market needs, and technical feasibility. They delivered oral and written reports in various formats that resembled typical corporate forums. Commercial project management practices were introduced and applied in building a working “proof of concept” prototype. Student teams were required to collaborate with an outside physician throughout the project. They honed their oral and written communication skills and learned to capitalize on collaborative expertise by developing their teamwork and leadership. Students learned to identify and solve and unmet clinical need, and in the process, built essential professional and multidisciplinary skills. The course has been delivered to approximately 170 students over a 6 year period. These students have consistently achieved significant results. They have implemented eight patent applications and one successful start-up company has been established. They have repeatedly been awarded top entrepreneurship prizes, won “Elevator Pitch” competitions, and have received statewide and international recognition. Participating alumni and their employers report that they have exceeded expectations with regard to their resourcefulness and their capability to integrate tasks well. The Stevens BME program was evaluated by ABET and recommended for accreditation in October 2009.
Vikki Hazelwood, Antonio Valdevit, Arthur Ritter Stevens Institute of Technology
As part of a National Science Foundation Department Level Reform (DLR) grant, the civil and environmental engineering programs at the University of Vermont (UVM) incorporated systems thinking and a systems approach to engineering problem solving within their programs. A systems approach means incorporating long-term social, environmental and economic factors within the context of the engineering problem solution and thus encompasses sustainable engineering solutions. As a way of practicing the systems approach, we have incorporated service-learning (S-L) projects within the curricula, culminating with the senior capstone design course. Projects that focus on sustainable solutions are especially sought after and have included projects in the following areas; stormwater management and design, small hydroelectric, local water and wastewater solutions in Honduras, and historical preservation. We have used a variety of assessment methods to gage student understanding and attitudes including student surveys, focus groups, and assessment of student projects. This paper presents some of the results related to the service-learning projects specifically focusing on sustainability and their impact on student learning.
Nancy J. Hayden, Mandar M. Dewoolkar, Donna M. Rizzo and Maureen Neumann University of Vermont
One goal of capstone projects is that they simulate a challenging design experience similar to expectations of a BS graduate engineer. Consequently industry originated capstone projects are very valuable since they are based on real world problems and technical challenges. Capstone projects are also a critical part of the assessment process for most engineering programs. The challenge becomes how to evaluate the potential of an industry based project in providing assessment information. This paper provides an example of a vetting process used with good success to accomplish this complex evaluation process.
Gene Dixon, Paul Kauffmann East Carolina University
This paper documents some lessons learned from an experimental long-distance multidisciplinary collaborative ‘capstone’ course conducted in Fall 2008. The course was intended to prepare students for industry by simulating a professional architectural collaboration, where architects, engineers and construction managers collaborate over long distances via Building Information Modeling (BIM). The course included over one hundred architecture and engineering students from the University of NebraskaLincoln, Montana State University, and the University of Wyoming. Working in small groups across hundreds of miles, the students collaborated using filesharing and a variety of communications tools to complete a comprehensive architectural design problem. The results were mixed, and the experiment has not been repeated for a variety of reasons. Although many of the students reported a positive experience, the instructors encountered a variety of unintended consequences which were deemed to be detrimental to the larger educational objectives. Some of the negative unintended consequences should have been easily anticipated and could be corrected; others may represent more fundamental obstacles to long-distance multidisciplinary collaboration.
Anthony Denzer University of Wyoming
The USF Capstone Design Course and the Center for Rehabilitation and Technology have collaborated to provide USF students with an outstanding Capstone Design Experience.1, 2 The content of the course has also been discussed,3 and the fact that two instructors are necessary to handle the workload has also been addressed.4 Many of the prototypes that the students have developed are wonderful innovations. The USF Office of Patents and Licensing evaluates the projects and has received patents on several of the designs. The next step is to commercialize the most promising designs. A new approach, forming a development company, has been taken by USF and will be discussed here.
Don Dekker, Stephen Sundarrao, Rajiv Dubey University of South Florida
Professional skills and behaviors desired by employers in engineering graduates are often difficult to assess in project products. Professional skills highlighted by ABET are professional and ethical responsibility and ability to engage in lifelong learning, but also include a variety of other characteristics that arise through interactions with project stakeholders. The Transferable Integrated Design Engineering Education (TIDEE) consortium has identified a set desired professional attributes and developed a set of professional development assessments for measuring student growth in these areas, providing student-centered feedback, and supporting accreditation efforts. Testing has begun with these instruments and early results are presented.
Denny Davis 1, Michael Trevisan 1, Howard Davis 1, Robert Gerlick 1, Jay McCormack 2, Steven Beyerlein 2, Phillip Thompson 3, Susannah Howe 4, Paul Leiffer 5, Patricia Brackin 6, Javed Khan 7
1Washington State University
2University of Idaho
6Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Shea butter is becoming internationally known as a skin care product used for moisturizing and other home applications. Women in Mali, North Africa, lack the efficient tools and education to develop a better means of producing shea butter products. The current process is physically exhausting and time demanding, taking several hours to complete. An engineering design team was established in 2004/2005 to develop a better means of the mixing process, utilizing a manually operated machine. After thoroughly researching, designing and experimenting, a prototype was developed, which optimized the mixing process. Four years after the initial implementation of the machine, a research team went back to investigate the project. Upon their findings they identified several areas where the mixer could be improved. A second senior design team was established in 2009/2010 to continue with a redesign of the machine. In order to help African women establish fair-trade Shea Yeleen International, a non-profit organization, was founded. It is the hope through the success of the redesign that Shea Yeleen International will be able to disseminate the machine and help fight poverty in Africa.
Nickolas M. Dalbec University of St. Thomas
Jennifer M. Nielsen and Nathan K. Sherrill University of St. Thomas
The North American Aerospace Project (NAAP) is a NASA/industry sponsored effort to accelerate penetration of the project-based educational concept of “Conceiving, Designing, Implementing, and Operating” (CDIO) into US Aerospace Engineering programs. NAAP is developing innovative educational approaches, tools, methods and concepts specialized for the education of the future aerospace engineers.
Ed Crawley 1, Robert Niewoehner 2, Jean Koster 3 and Peter Gray 2
3University of Colorado
The experience of working with a practicing engineer on a project that is important to the sponsoring organization is an important aspect of the capstone design course at the University of Oklahoma School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (OU/ECE). Although we believe that this approach provides many benefits to the student, external projects can provide a real challenge to the instructor of the course. Sponsoring organizations and mentors must be found and the relationship must be nurtured so that the organization and mentor will be a “repeat customer” by providing future projects. Fostering the sponsor/mentor relationship requires an understanding of what motivates organizations to sponsor a capstone design project, what motivates individual mentors to participate, and what defines a suitable capstone design project.
Jerry Crain and Cliff Fitzmorris University of Oklahoma
The Tufts University Civil & Environmental Engineering capstone course experience has undergone revision to address some uneven results. Three areas of concern were addressed. First, different grading schemes used by different faculty directing projects was eliminated by using two faculty to manage all student groups, with help from other faculty and outside practitioners. Second, variations in group size and corresponding student work load were remedied by selection of student groups that were the same size and of similar composition. Finally, differences in design complexity due to differences in the type and scale of group projects were leveled by having all student groups work on a variation of the same design project. Approaches not changed included maintaining uniform time demands throughout the semester and use of a real site. Uniform time demands has shown to reduce last-minute scrambling. Use of a real site continues to allow involvement of practitioners on the project and its scoring. All faculty members were involved in scoring all groups’ reports, generating an atmosphere of equity for students and faculty. Also during the course revamping process, a module concerning professional and ethical practice was introduced to ensure required student outcomes were thoroughly addressed.
Wayne Chudyk Tufts University
This paper reports on the development and implementation of a formative/summative examination used to measure students knowledge and understanding of functional decomposition. The examination is given in a capstone course in the electrical and computer engineering department of a public, research intensive university. The closed-book examination, termed a “block diagram test”, is given to individual students midway through the capstone course. The examination asks students to describe their design project through an engineering block diagram. The examination assumes the socio-constructivist theoretical framework of the Vygotsky Cycle to explain how students learn design, and thus to map questions to different quadrants of Harre’s display and realization axes. The exam is both formative and summative since it is given early enough in a semester to provide feedback to students on their understanding while simultaneously measuring an individual’s understanding of a team design. The block diagram test has undergone significant testing and revision over a four year period. Results of the test development are reported along with comparisons of test scores to other measures of learning and teamwork.
Alan Cheville Oklahoma State University
This paper describes components of a capstone engineering design course in which students develop custom assistive devices for people with disabilities. Typical engineering curricula do not expose students to rehabilitation engineering or important issues related to working with people with disabilities. To help students have a successful experience in our class, we organize lectures, discussions, student presentations, and other activities and assignments that give an overview of rehabilitation engineering disability concepts. Student feedback indicates that this has been useful, and that their project experiences have been rewarding.
Kevin Caves, Richard Goldberg, and Larry Bohs
Surgery, Duke University, Durham NC
Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham NC
Biomedical Engineering, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The engineering capstone design course is the culmination of all previous undergraduate training in engineering expressed in the act and art of design. In the Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Department of Virginia Tech, Aerospace Engineering Seniors interested in aircraft design can work on the conceptual design of an aircraft that is defined by the yearly Design Competition sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). This paper explores the aircraft design course and the impact on student learning of an experimental interactive lesson on the use of Computer Aided Design or CAD in aircraft design. In the present design course, CAD is not covered and the course follows the teacher-centered paradigm. This learner-centered approach attempted to engage the students in an interactive CAD experience with the goal of an initial design layout of an aircraft. This is the first step of a proposed study of the implementation of simulation and virtual reality into aerospace engineering capstone design. Initial student feedback for the CAD lesson was positive.
W. M. Butler, J.P. Terpenny and R.M. Goff Virginia Tech
This paper is submitted as background for one of the presenters in a panel discussion entitled “Diverse Models for Incorporating Service Learning in Capstone Design.” The paper details recent experiences with year-long capstone service learning projects at South Dakota State University. Additionally, the author discusses briefly the impact of international service learning experiences at Ohio Northern University.
Bruce W. Berdanier South Dakota State University
The development of an effective systems engineer is a multifaceted and multi-disciplinary process conducted throughout the entire career of the engineer. This process can be accomplished by developing the engineer according to a „systems engineer‟ lifecycle. This paper extends the well known systems lifecycle model to the development of the systems engineer while incorporating the use of capstone projects at critical stages of the process. It details the elements of the concept, development, production, utilization, support and retirement stages of the lifecycle as applied to the education and training of the systems engineer. Additionally, this paper emphasizes the importance of strong mentorship in the capstone projects as well as throughout the lifecycle of the engineer.
Carlee A. Bishop and Tommer R. Ender Georgia Tech Research Institute
Service learning (SL) provides a benefit to partner communities/clients while also achieving core learning outcomes for the student participants. Many senior capstone design courses around the country have incorporated SL as optional and/or mandatory projects. Most instructors have found that SL projects pose some unique challenges in comparison to senior design projects that are simply learning exercises for the students. However, there are generally a variety of beneficial learning outcomes that are unique and/or enhanced by SL projects compared to non SL projects. These outcomes will vary substantially based on the length and context of the projects, in particular for international versus domestic SL projects. The large number of student chapters of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) serves as one source of international SL projects. These types of projects highlight the importance of sustainability as a key project criterion, but also are some of the most challenging projects to successfully execute. This paper summarizes 10-years of personal experience and published information on SL projects in capstone design.
Angela R. Bielefeldt University of Colorado at Boulder
A student-initiated Capstone Design project was conducted in Costa Rica by a student team with the advisors located in Massachusetts. The project was to improve the sustainability of a Costa Rican trail system by designing stretches with features to minimize erosion, and to design a river crossing that will provide access to the trails by mobility-impaired persons. Costa Rica is interested in promoting ecotourism, and this project will improve the La Marta Wildlife Refuge by enhancing tourism in the area. Communication between the students and advisors was enabled with the use of technology, including email, web conferencing, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This project provided an opportunity for the students to tackle real world, open-ended problems and to develop solutions that incorporated sustainable design. The students learned to communicate in a global setting, and within a multidisciplinary team.
John Bergendahl and Tahar El Korchi Worcester Polytechnic Institute
This paper documents a pre-capstone course dedicated to student preparation of a detailed Civil Engineering capstone design project proposal, and discusses the advantages and limitations of using a proposal to define and plan an open-ended project.
The paper sheds light on the development, implementation, and subsequent evaluation of a senior design course at an international university, where practitioners have played a major role in planning and teaching the capstone course. The new restructured design course, co-taught by practitioners in the locale, has met its declared objectives and exposed students to professional practice. This industry-driven experience has also provided information with regard to curricular content and capabilities of graduates. In a way, the capstone experience reported on here, serves as a microcosm of the four year program. Outputs from the course can be used to provide guidance and insights into curricular changes, teaching methods, and exposure to local practice; and helps in establishing connections with the industrial sector.
Design is undoubtedly the most distinguishing activity of engineering. The general trend today of increasing the design component in engineering curricula is part of an effort to better prepare graduates for engineering practice. Although the presence, role, and perception of design in engineering curriculum have improved markedly in recent years, there is a widespread feeling that the intellectual dimension of design has not received the attention it deserves. The paper begins by addressing design as a “thought” process. Several aspects of “design-related” education, that students of engineering design should be exposed to, are outlined. Finely, the paper identifies common structures of a typical capstone design course and asserts that trying to satisfy the needs of industry in capstone design courses is a central issue.
Engineering professionals and students are often unaware of, and therefore neglect, principles of design, rhetoric, and data display in preparing the illustrations, graphs, tables, equations, and schematics they include in reports and presentations. We have developed two learning modules to address this issue in the junior year. The first module is a two-hour workshop given in a mechanical engineering measurement systems course and the second module is a component of a technical and professional communications course. We present an overview of these activities. The goal of the modules is to expand the skill set and critical-thinking ability of our undergraduates. The goal of this paper is to share our approach, prompt awareness and discussion, and encourage adaptation in other programs.
Thomas M. Adams, Richard A. Layton, Corey M. Taylor
During the several years that we have been teaching the computer science capstone course we have learned many valuable lessons. This paper describes the pedagogy of our course along three axes: product, process, and professionalism. The paper illustrates how our course ensures that the student, by demonstrating each of these elements, will be a competent professional upon graduation. Finally, the paper concludes with other lessons learned regarding motivation, team-formation, individual student evaluations, and development methodology. Our goal is to provide ideas for others engaged in capstone education, as well as to elicit feedback from that same audience.
Robert Adams, Jamal Alsabbagh