The 2012 Capstone Design Conference
Champaign-Urbana, IL, USA
Capstone design courses across the United States are increasingly providing students with projects funded by industry partners. The Oregon State University Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering Capstone Design course utilizes industry sponsored projects and uses a results-driven assessment of student performance to ensure deliverables. The inherent inexperience of undergraduate students can make running these type of courses challenging to all those involved. This paper proposes using Graduate Assistants as the project advisers to fulfill many key roles that compensate for some of the inexperience students may have. For industry-sponsored projects, when compared to faculty, Graduate Assistants tended to be more accessible to students, sponsors and instrucotrs, they were easier to hold accountable and keep motivated, they streamlined the communication process, they were effective as project managers, and they provided accurate assessments of student performance. Graduate Assistants also benefitted from this arrangement by gaining project management, technical advising and grading experience. There may be concerns over the lack of experience and maturity of the Graduate Assistants, which were remedied by having faculty members supporting each Graduate Assistant.
Drew Arnold, and John P. Parmigiani Oregon State University
Systems Engineering (SE) MS degree students at WPI are required to complete a capstone project as part of their program of study. Much like the undergraduate capstone requirement, the graduate SE capstone requirement is expected to be a “culminating experience” and draw together a student’s breadth of knowledge in a focused project environment. In this paper, I review the general SE MS program at WPI, describe the capstone requirement, and present an overview of how the requirement is generally met by program students. Sample capstone projects are also described.
Fred J Looft Worcester Polytechnic Institute
This paper describes how practitioners were integrated into a year-long civil engineering capstone sequence. Mentors participated throughout the project cycle, from project initiation through design completion. Assessment results demonstrate that all stakeholders—students, faculty, and practitioners—benefitted from the mentor sessions.
John V. Tocco and Luis A. Mata Lawrence Technological University
Advisory boards help establish outcomes, set priorities and shape curriculum, igniting the first end of the candle. But too often this important relationship flickers and wanes as educators try to implement the vision provided by advisors. We need to fuel the fire instead. Bring boards and students together, demonstrate skills, establish relationships and networks, and assess students and faculty at the capstone phase, igniting the second end of the candle. Explore options for engaging advisory board members at both ends of the academic cycle, but especially at capstone presentations when feedback and connections are critically important.
Charlie Setterfield Sinclair Community College
The decision to implement a corporate sponsored capstone course involves passing some preliminary hurdles. Are small programs precluded from implementing a corporate sponsored capstone because of their small size? Can they develop a critical mass of funding to sustain a capstone coordinator or support a dedicated design studio for customer projects?
Lou Reifschneider Illinois State University
Capstone design experiences have long been a staple of undergraduate engineering programs, providing an opportunity for the students to tie together the fundamental engineering science they have learned and apply it to solving a problem. Implementations of a capstone design experience vary significantly from program to program, with advantages and disadvantages to each and every incarnation. The example of the Senior Design program in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is used to illustrate the importance of including significant emphasis in the capstone experience on the generation of a detailed engineering design specification. A structured approach to the generation of the engineering specification is also shared, along with discussion of how this part of the design process has served both the student design teams and the industry sponsors served as the customer on these projects.
Peter J. Gorder University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
This paper reports on development, implementation, and adoption of best practices in working with industrial partners and industry-sponsored capstone design projects in engineering programs in Rhode Island in partnership with regional industrial partners.
Bahram Nassersharif1 and Linda Ann Riley2 1University of Rhode Island 2Roger Williams University
Capstone design within the Mechanical Engineering department at Clemson University focuses on industry sponsored, semester long design projects for students in their final semester. Each project is assigned to three to five teams of four to five students per team. The course requires the students to fully define the engineering problem, develop a solution, and produce a prototype by the semesters’ end. This course is also now being offered to students as a study abroad program in Queretaro, Mexico jointly with several Mexican universities and West Virginia University. The students work at the company site to complete a design project during a six-week semester. To determine the effect of the study abroad on students, each group of students takes a survey at the beginning and end of the course. The preliminary results of the precourse survey indicate that students choosing the study abroad program have a different outlook on the course expectations. These results are discussed.
Samantha Thoe1 and Joshua Summers1 1Clemson University
Students need to communicate and collaborate with sponsor mentors to successfully complete industry sponsored design projects. We observed that students’ motivation level and performance are affected by the quality of the interactions with their sponsor mentors. This paper presents common problems and recommends some solutions (actions) that were effective. Each problem is organized using the following format: Symptoms, Consequences, Typical Causes, Preventive Measure, and Suggested Solutions.
Junichi Kanai and Mark Anderson Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Many universities in Asia have started to incorporate the capstone design program into their engineering curriculums so that their undergraduates have the opportunity to apply what they have learnt into real-life design problems. However, many of these capstone projects were originated from companies within their own countries. With the trend of globalization, many engineering professionals must be able to work with their overseas counterparts in different countries and time zones. Thus, it is important to give our undergraduates a foretaste of working with overseas colleagues early. This paper describes the capstone program from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and shares the experiences and issues that were encountered during the collaboration with overseas universities.
Stanley C.H Thian, Sha Ma, Jerry Y.H. Fuh, C. Quan, Y.F. Zhang and Li Lu Department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore
This paper discussed the use of the Alumni Advisory Board in assessment of capstone design projects. Since it is an ABET requirement that engineering programs obtain input from outside constituents on the continuous improvement processes for their programs, practically all engineering departments have established some form of external alumni advisory board which meets with the department administration and faculty on a regular basis, usually every semester. Since these boards are already in place, they can be used to assess the achievement of ABET student outcomes in the capstone design course. Specifically, the Alumni Advisory Board can be used to evaluate students’ oral presentations, if the schedule of their visit is aligned to coincide with the required presentations of the capstone design course. The Alumni Advisory Board members can also evaluate the final written project reports, which can be done anytime after the completion of the student projects, and so is not schedule dependent. At Bradley University we have conducted both of these assessments over the last ten years. An evaluation template has been developed for the final written reports that covers most of the ABET student outcomes a-k. A rubric has also been developed for evaluation of student poster presentations.
Scott Post, Julie Reyer, and Martin Morris Bradley University
Since 1994 Lehigh University’s Integrated Product Development (IPD) program has provided a series of capstone courses that has engaged students from our 3 undergraduate colleges in industry-sponsored new product development and process improvement projects. In that time span more than 50 different companies and individuals have sponsored project teams in such diverse areas as biofeedback devices, manufacturing automation, supply chain redesign and commercial products sold in stores and even on shopping channels. Our industry sponsors have had direct impact on both what we teach and how we assess the individual and team performances in these courses. Now in 2011 the IPD courses enrolled 192 students working in 29 teams of 6 or 7 students each. In order to manage these diverse project teams from a wide array of industry sectors, the authors have developed a set of direct, authentic, and formative assessment tools to be used by the team advisers for the multiple gradable moments that occur throughout the two-semester capstone experiential courses. This paper will describe the context of these courses, give specific examples of individual and team performance activities and the assessment rubrics we use to evaluate them, describe how we use our assessment tools to manage the IPD process, and finally, end with the greatest challenge we face in preparing our students for professional careers.
John B Ochs and Lisa Getzler-Linn Lehigh University
In the capstone project courses in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Clemson University robotics projects are used as a medium to teach senior-year undergraduates the tools required for engineering practice and team-based design, qualities essential for their professional success as engineers. The student teams solve technical problems while learning about system design, ethics, safety, hardware and software integration, and technical documentation. The inherent breadth of robotics allows us to control the parameters and skill sets required to execute a project. This model makes it possible to impart specific skills each semester without having to make drastic curricular changes. In addition, evaluation, and feedback from industry members serves to measure student performance from a second viewpoint. This paper documents our experience of using robotics as a learning medium for senior design.
Ninad Pradhan, Timothy Burg, Richard Groff, Darren Dawson Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Clemson University
The interdisciplinary design project I & II courses (IDP) span two sequential semesters offer opportunities for engaging industry partners while addressing academic needs and perhaps serving as a discipline specific capstone design project. The structure of the IDP is presented which encompasses a discussion of the significant elements underlying conduct of actual projects and involving clients. The significant elements of the IDP are presented and discussed from expectation to communications/documentation. The need to identify technical advisors beyond the instructors is noted. Multidisciplinary design team projects influence the learning and application of the process of design in concert with outcomes of design. There are impact to grading, employing the design process, and actual project outcomes. A set of guidelines for project selection is proposed recognizing the necessity of coupling students and industrial concerns for support of the project. Besides the traditional ways of defining resources, students interning at various industry firms secure expertise from those firms in the form of informal consultancy. Clients can come from “industry”, “faculty,” and “organization/government” sectors with varying capacity to participate in design projects and at different levels.
Philip Kazemersky University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
In 2007, collaboration between the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and Dresser-Rand (D-R) was initiated for the donation of an industrial-sized compressor for the purpose of on-campus educational and graduate research applications. The project has since led to a series of multidisciplinary senior design team projects culminating with the installation and commissioning of a brand new ESH-1 reciprocating compressor in 2010. This successful effort has been followed by a student summer internship, two additional senior design teams, and two graduate student thesis research projects. Through frequent interaction between the faculty and students at RIT with engineers and managers at D-R the project has been immensely successful in presenting students at all levels with “real-world” design and research challenges.
Jason R. Kolodziej1, Scott J. Delmotte2, John W. Blamer2, Promit Bagchi2 and William J. Nowak3 1Rochester Institute of Technology 2Dresser-Rand 3Xerox Corporation
This paper discusses the use of a gated review process for administering a capstone senior design course. A gated review process is a tool used in product and process development by companies and institutions. It is a process that systematically controls the progress of a design cycle while also managing the risks inherent with new designs. The process consists of four phased review elements. Each element terminates in a mandated gate review that is staged at key times during the lifecycle of the design projects.
Martin Morris, Scott Post, and Julie Reyer, Bradley University
The Integrated Design Engineering Assessment and Learning System (IDEALS) offers web-based assessment and instructional resources (modules) that enable students to achieve outstanding work-ready professional skills (teamwork, professional responsibility, and self-directed learning) in their capstone design project experiences. Instructors using IDEALS resources intersperse learning exercises with formative assessments to grow students’ abilities in self-reflection while documenting targeted professional skills. Summative assessments provide multifaceted evidence of students’ knowledge and performance of these professional skills, as needed for awarding grades and for documenting student outcomes for program accreditation. IDEALS resources may be used individually for instructional or assessment purposes, or in sequences that systematically lay foundational knowledge, test and revise understanding, and deepen knowledge in a learning situation that mirrors the professional work environment – resulting in instructionally relevant measurement of professional skills. Through a yearlong pilot testing period in seven diverse institutions and disciplinary settings, IDEALS modules have been shown effective for developing and documenting achievement of professional skills. Assessments regularly apprise instructors of issues needing attention so that interventions can maximize student learning and performance. Students learn how to better self-assess, perform as professionals, and grow skills needed for effective teams and productive contribution to their projects. Both students and faculty recognize that the time invested in professional skills development, supplanting some time-on-task on their projects, does produce skills valuable in the professional workplace and indirectly enhances the quality of their project deliverables.
Denny Davis1, Steven Beyerlein2, Michael Trevisan1, Phillip Thompson3, Susannah Howe4, Howard Davis1, Jay McCormack2, Patricia Brackin5, Javed Khan6, Paul Leiffer7 1Washington State University 2University of Idaho 3Seattle University 4Smith College 5Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 6Tuskegee University 7LeTourneau University
Abstract. Project teams, a mainstay in industry practice, are being employed in many capstone design courses. This paper examines industry models for teams and their application to a specific capstone design course. Following Katzenbach and Smith’s basics of high performing teams, teams are formed based on individuals skills. The team is made accountable and committed both as a group and as individuals through the structure and format of the course. The course structure is then planned so that teams progress through Tuckman’s development stages of forming, storming, norming and performing, during their two semester capstone design project.
Julie A. Reyer, Martin Morris, and Scott Post Bradley University
Competitions have been used for engineering design education for several decades in the United States, and starting in the early 1990s, competitions ranging from FIRST and Robocup to DARPAs “Grand Challenge” generated interest in robotics in specific, and engineering in general. This paper discusses advantages and disadvantages to utilizing existing competitions to generate design projects for capstone courses, as well as tradeoffs between participation in existing competitions and creating a new one for the design course. Finally, our experience is presented at adapting a local competition from the mechatronics lab of the University of Pennsylvania for use in an engineering science program at Trinity University in San Antonio.
Kevin Nickels Trinity University
The capstone process is meant to provide students with real-world design experiences, thereby developing skills that are transferrable to the corporate environment. To address the growing concerns of providing students with adequate preparation for the workplace, the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science (ECCS) Department at Ohio Northern University (ONU) adopted both an industry-based project management standard and a corresponding corporate project management documentation practice as an operational framework for their capstone design course sequence. Additionally, in order to provide capstone teams with appropriate technical expertise across the multidisciplinary topics that make up a typical design experience, a Project Review Board (PRB) consisting of faculty selected specifically for their expertise relative to each project is assigned to each capstone team to both provide guidance and to conduct performance reviews. Both formative and summative assessments of the design process include the use of multiple communication formats at specified decision points in the process to both internal and external audiences. Both forms of assessment are evaluated using a standardized set of rubrics, providing benefits to students by explicitly stating performance expectations and to faculty by establishing a common definition of skill competencies.
John K. Estell Juliet K. Hurtig Ohio Northern University
Students involved in capstone projects with support from industry gain a better understanding of the design process, have access to more resources, are more engaged, and ultimately produce a better product. At West Point within the Civil and Mechanical Engineering (CME) department students begin to learn the mechanical design process during their junior year. As they move into their senior year they begin to practice the design process. Ultimately they are required to demonstrate their ability to solve a complex real-world problem using the design process on a capstone project. That process can be enhanced with the external expertise offered by industry. Industry involvement in the capstone project benefits the students, the school, and industry. This paper uses an assessment of data from course-end-surveys of the students’ perceptions on their performance as measured against program outcomes. A case study of a specific student capstone project will demonstrate the shared advantages of involving industry in capstone projects.
R. Clayton McVay 1, R. Bruce Floersheim 1, Adarsh Ayyar 2, Kevin Hollander 3, Alex Boehler 3, Matthew Holgate 3 1United States Military Academy 2BAE Systems Aerospace & Defense Group Inc. 3SpringActive, Inc.
The Senior Capstone course at NJIT was declared an experimental zone starting in Fall, 2010. Until that time, there had been little recent connectivity between NJIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and practicing engineers and their employers in developing a culture of volunteering and contributions to the curriculum. Such connectivity was started in Fall, 2010 and each semester the connections have grown stronger, more varied, and more successful. Students appreciate this course, and they are active participants in the continuous improvement of the course as a real-time experiment. Thus far, the class has been limited to six 4-student teams. Scaling this up to handle more than 100 students will be a challenge in organization, administration, and mobilization of mentor resources.
Priscilla P. Nelson New Jersey Institute of Technology
This article presents preliminary results on the establishment of an industry based international capstone exchange program. North Dakota State University in the United States, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hannover, Germany and Linköping University in Sweden as well as industrial sponsors in each country will be participating. Three models for industry based capstone courses are presented along with characteristics of projects well suited for an international exchange program. At this point, the project exchange is ready to take place in the spring 2012 semester, so results at this time are mainly given regarding how to set up such an exchange. Some early conclusions and areas for potential improvement are included as well. More results from the first instance will be available at the time of the conference.
Dean Knudson1, Carsten Kleiner2 and Kristian Sandahl3 1North Dakota State University 2University of Applied Sciences & Arts Hannover 3Linköping University
Criteria 3 for Student Outcomes of the ABET Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs requires that students have an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams, and an ability to design a system to meet desired needs within realistic constraints. The approach taken by the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at the University of Louisville to meeting these criteria is to solicit realistic, team-based projects from industry collaborators. These projects solve industrial problems that are relevant to business needs. They also provide students with industrial experience in design and development of “real-world” solutions to typical problems encountered in electronic system development. One of the main issues associated with these projects is the issue of ownership of Intellectual Property (IP) associated with the project effort. IP can be provided by the industry collaborator to the project team, and the students on the project team can develop IP to the benefit of the industry collaborator. Historically, universities have taken the position that any IP developed by university faculty and other employees is owned by the University. This approach to IP ownership can preclude industry collaborators from participating in Capstone projects. This paper details the approach that ECE has taken to solve this dilemma.
Andy Dozier University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering Electrical and Computer Engineering Department
David D. King University of Louisville Assistant University Counsel
“What in the world were they thinking?” Have your capstone projects ever ended with this comment from the industry sponsor or the course instructor? This article provides insights into how misunderstandings arise and offers strategies to avoid them. The author relates capstone experiences from his industrial and academic perspectives. Industry sponsors and capstone instructors live in very different environments and their motivations will differ on topics such as intellectual property, funding, scheduling, and assessing. The key to success is to set clear expectations up front. Never assume to know what the other party is thinking. The article may be used to guide discussions when the instructors or project sponsors are relatively inexperienced with the capstone process.
The article is written with the assumption that all parties will agree that the student learning experience is the utmost priority. This may seem obvious, but capstone projects can very quickly lose the student-focus if a university only considers the capstone course as a bridge to gain research funding or if a company only considers the capstone course as a source of inexpensive labor. The strategies suggested in the article focus on maximizing the student learning experience.
Darrell Kleinke University of Detroit Mercy (Formerly of Ford Motor Company)
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 industrial partners 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. All project teams are assigned a faculty advisor for the duration of the year-long design project.
Prior to the 2008/2009 academic year, senior exit surveys, along with substantial anecdotal evidence, repeatedly identified advisement of capstone design projects as a problem area in the curriculum. During that time, faculty advising of capstone design projects was unstructured and inconsistent. While some advisors took a very active role, others presumed their only responsibility was to assist with technical aspects on an as-needed basis. The underlying problem was that no formal guidelines existed; advisors were appointed to supervise projects and proceeded in whatever fashion they felt was most appropriate.
A year-long effort was undertaken to improve supervision of capstone design projects. Results of the work included clear definition of the faculty advisor’s role, consistent advising across groups, and a collection of best practices. An additional, unintended benefit resulting from the work was a formula for computing workload credit for faculty supervision of capstone design projects.
Gregory Watkins California State University Chico
There are only three hard and fast rules for a Capstone project in the Electrical and Computer Engineering programs at the University of Oklahoma: The industry partner must 1) Have a definite need for the product, 2) Assign a Mentor who can guide and critically review the students' design, and 3) Provide funds for two student teams to design, fabricate, test, and document their implementation of a product that meets the customer's needs within time and negotiated budget constraints. Because our Capstone class is taken by both Computer Engineers and Electrical Engineers, we are able to support projects that variously mix hardware and software technologies. This paper discusses the underlying construct of projects that have proven to be successful over the past thirty-two semesters and what we have learned to avoid from some not-so-successful variants.
Jerry Crain and Cliff Fitzmorris University of Oklahoma
In 2005, the Department of Civil Engineering at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT) decided to incorporate an international component into its 18 year old capstone senior design projects. Since then, the department has ensured that at least one international design project is offered every year. During the 2006-07 academic year, five civil engineering students had the invaluable experience of visiting Ghana as part of their capstone design experience. Prior to their visit, the Civil Engineering Department and the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment (IRPA) of RHIT developed and administered three assessment instruments in order to collect data on the short term impact of international design projects on student experiences. The results indicated that, despite the associated challenges, the benefits to the students are seen as immediate and profound. To date, there is little or no information on assessing the long-term benefits of such projects. Consequently, the Civil Engineering Department and IRPA have implemented an on-going assessment plan that involved sending out questionnaires to past students (alumni) who have been involved in international design projects. The goal is to assess the impact of such projects on their professional career and growth. This paper discusses the results of the data collected during the assessment process. Additionally, the paper compares two main student groups: student who undertook international projects and those who took part in domestic projects. Finally, the paper concludes with suggestions for future improvement.
John Aidoo 1, Shannon Sexton 1, Jim Hanson 1, Robert Houghtalen 1, and Matt Lovell 1
1Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
The key role of industrial consultants in the capstone chemical product and process design courses at Penn is described. Emphasis is placed on the timely design-problem statements they prepare and the advice they provide during the spring design-projects course. Also, the role of adjunct professors is reviewed. Several important industrial impacts are described over the past 65 years. Next, the interactions between many faculty advisors, who are not normally design-oriented, and our industrial consultants are examined. In several cases, these lead to product design-oriented projects, closely related to the research and teaching of our young faculty. Finally, the practices in other engineering disciplines at Penn and elsewhere are considered, with emphasis on the pedagogical constraints and practical limitations that prevent their adoption in our design courses.
Warren D. Seider and Leonard A. Fabiano University of Pennsylvania
Senior design capstone projects for engineering students are essential components of an undergraduate program that enhances communication, teamwork, and problem solving skills. Capstone projects with industry are well established in management, but not as heavily utilized in engineering. This paper outlines a general framework that can be used by students and faculty to create a strong, industry-based senior design capstone course. The framework has been established over the past 17 years at The University of Toledo College of Engineering and has been applied to over 90 projects in the Mechanical Engineering Department. This paper outlines the course framework, a discussion of the resources required, overviews of typical industry projects, a discussion of evaluation criteria, and a discussion of the benefits.
Matthew Franchetti1 and Christine Smallman1 1University of Toledo
When entering into a Capstone project relationship there are certain expectations that both industry and academia are seeking to achieve. Of course, the desired outcome is to complete a successful project and have relevant learning by students. At Brigham Young University there have been a number of teaching and coaching aids used to prepare both the students and project sponsors for success. Bridging Capstone design requirements and educational objectives with industry’s willingness to partner with academia, creates an opportunity for success. This paper describes how to create a culture of communication between industry sponsors and student teams, and a discussion of lessons learned on the need for involvement from both industry and academia.
Jimmy L. Trent, Jr. and Robert H. Todd Brigham Young University
How do we provide capstone experiences that build an identity for our graduates in a still-forming discipline where industry is still nascent? This need is consistent with our desire to develop skill-building hands-on labs that provide unique skills to students that other disciplines cannot provide but that this new industry needs. We are a new department with our first graduates entering the job market in 2007. Our design course has undergone much iteration to address the changing market place and industrial preferences in undergraduates entering the workforce. This article addresses the importance of undergraduate training in design concepts to help graduates remain adaptive in the changing marketplace of bioengineering.
Jennifer R Amos Department of Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Opportunities for industry involvement in capstone design courses go beyond industry sponsorship of capstone design projects. Representatives from industry can serve as guest lecturers, curriculum advisors, and design project sponsors and team mentors. For the last twelve years industry participation has been a core part of the capstone design course at Marquette University. Practicing engineers provide a relevant, practical real-world perspective of their topic, reinforcing its importance to professional engineering practice. Students (and course faculty) benefit from the up-to-date treatment of the topic provided by guest speakers from industry who have expertise in the topic and are willing to share their experiences with students. Students benefit from industry sponsorship of senior design projects through the opportunity to work on real-world problems of importance to industry, exposure to industry and company-specific project management and product development processes, and familiarity with economic, legal, and regulatory design constraints. This paper provides a brief description of the Multidisciplinary Capstone Design course at Marquette University, examples of industry involvement in the course, and the observed benefits to students, the university, and industry participants.
Jay Goldberg, Vikram Cariapa, George Corliss, and Kate Kaiser Marquette University
Iowa State University’s Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering (IMSE) Department has been teaching and practicing continuous improvement for many years. Since 2003, a formal process for curriculum assessment related to ABET outcome items [a-k] and departmental outcome items [l-p] has been in place. This process has provided structure for obtaining, documenting, and using feedback from stakeholders, including students, alumni, faculty, and industry. Quantitative feedback is received through stakeholder surveys and outcome item assessment. Qualitative feedback is received from capstone design industry partners, alumni working in industry, and the IMSE Industrial Advisory Board. The IMSE capstone design course (IE441) has served as a principle linkage within the department for this process, and this paper describes how Industry and outcome item assessment are used to improve the capstone curriculum. Quantitative data are provided that indicate positive improvements resulting from interactions with Industry. Examples of qualitative feedback are also included. Outcome items [g] (An ability to communicate effectively) and [h] (The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context) are specifically addressed for the period of 2003-2011, with positive results seen in both areas.
Leslie Potter Iowa State University
The Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design sequence at Northeastern University expects students to produce a working prototype or component that satisfies a real world design problem. A recent successful project paired mechanical engineering students with the Alternative Fuel Foundation (AFF), a small non-profit bio-fuel reprocessor in Middleton, MA. The project required the students to develop a device to melt frozen fryer oil to aid the AFF in collecting used fryer oil from restaurants in the winter. This had to be accomplished with a strict budget of $5000, safe operating requirements, and other constraints. The final project demonstrated a high level of integration of curriculum concepts on the part of the student team. The result was a fully functional device that satisfied the sponsor’s needs at an affordable price. This project demonstrates how a small financial outlay by a company can lead to a large benefit for the company as well as a large educational benefit for the students.
Bridget M. Smyser, Gregory J. Kowalski and Mohammad E. Taslim Department of Mechanical Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
As the capstone experience is marketed, vetted, and assessed there has been a consistent challenge in developing the capstone student’s ability to develop a quality statement of the project problem. This paper provides a summary report of research directed at determining what characteristics are valued in developing a problem statement. The research found that the problem statement and its characteristics vary with programmatic requirements and preferences. Statistics point to alignment of academia and industry on all but two pre-selected problem statement characteristics. Industry was found to have the more rigorous point of view for the two characteristics.
Gene Dixon East Carolina University