The 2020 Capstone Design Conference
Entrepreneurially focused capstone design courses do not often result in students being self-employed full-time in a startup company formed around their project post-graduation. To address this, we have developed, implemented, and measured the impact of a new course at the Georgia Institute of Technology: CREATE-X Capstone Design. In an entrepreneurial cohort of teams, we provide extensive resources, require real, quantitative customer discovery and validation of a business thesis, provide the substantial and specific rewards and follow-on opportunities, and trust the students. Six of the 19 teams (32%) that participated in the course in AY’18-19 started working full-time for their startup companies during the summer of 2019. Further, teams in this course were 4.5 times more likely to win awards at the end-of-semester institute-wide Capstone Exposition. Students gain entrepreneurial confidence due to the process we teach them; surveys have shown that more that 85% appreciate the course model and would recommend it to a friend. This program represents one of the most exciting educational innovations on campus and has the broader potential to fundamentally impact engineering education in the United States and beyond.
Erik Anderson, Georgia Institute of Technology
Colby F. Lewallen, Georgia Institute of Technology
Baratunde Cola, Georgia Institute of Technology
Rahul Saxena, Georgia Institute of Technology
Raghupathy Sivakumar, Georgia Institute of Technology
Karthik Ramachandran, Georgia Institute of Technology
Joyelle Harris, Georgia Institute of Technology
Olufisayo Omojokun, Georgia Institute of Technology
Raymond P. Vito, Georgia Institute of Technology
David E. Boeller, Georgia Institute of Technology
Craig R. Forest, Georgia Institute of Technology
Starting in the 2018-2019 interdisciplinary engineering capstone sequence at the University of Idaho, several instructional strategies are implemented to improve students’ ability to communicate and articulate the value proposition of their projects more effectively to a range of audiences. This effort in driven by one of the seven ABET learning outcomes and includes a multi-pronged approach incorporating: 1) opportunities to hear testimony and feedback from multiple outside voices, 2) a formal assignment to write a value proposition statement for the project, and c) multiple venues to practice their presentation skills to non-technical and younger demographics. With this increased emphasis, the instructors have observed more enriched discussion in the classroom about value proposition, and measured tangible improvement in student communication skills through formal judging by industry partners at the end-of-year Engineering Design EXPO.
Matthew Swenson, University of Idaho
George Tanner, University of Idaho
Dan Cordon, University of Idaho
Michael Maughan, University of Idaho
Steven Beyerlein, University of Idaho
This paper describes the application of the L.E.A.D. leadership model in capstone design projects in the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering program at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The L.E.A.D. framework champions a reflective learning model achieved through frequent quality faculty-student interactions and mentorship. The L.E.A.D. model is implemented in four sequential activities: Learn from theory, Experience through practice, Analyze using reflection and Deepen understanding through mentoring. The specific implementation of this model, with a focus on target leadership competencies of team-building and effective communications, is presented in the context of a ship design project. The specific pedagogical approaches and capstone course format used to create the reflective learning environment are described and faculty-student mentoring approaches are discussed. The efforts demonstrate the utility of the L.E.A.D model in achieving a meaningful undergraduate capstone leadership development experience.
Thomas W. DeNucci, U.S. Coast Guard Academy
Capstone projects represent an opportunity for students to work in real challenges proposed by industry partners. Companies also have an opportunity to better understand their challenge with the students’ support. This document describes the design and implementation of a senior capstone project in an engineering undergraduate program in Brazil, where capstones are not standard practice neither for students nor industry. Several challenges were encountered, such as interacting with industry, designing how the course should be conducted, and how to evaluate students. The capstone program implemented is in its early iterations, but already shows that students can effectively interact with and deliver prototypes to industry. Feedback from students and industry shows that, beside good technical results, the capstone project improves other social skills in the students.
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The University of Florida IPPD capstone design program provides an interdisciplinary faculty-coached experience for student teams who work with industrial liaison engineers to design, build, and test solutions for the industry sponsors. As the program completes its 25th anniversary and defines its future path, this study aims to determine the needs and wants of the industry regarding project sponsoring. A survey was shared amongst past and potential IPPD sponsors, with data obtained from 20 industries representing the range of potential sponsors. Faculty and student course evaluations were also reviewed. The data includes quantitative and qualitative responses that helped redefine how IPPD will engage companies during recruitment of industry sponsors going forward, as well as how we might restructure parts of the program to increase industry participation and maximize student educational benefits. The results show that IPPD could benefit from offering sponsorship tiers with different costs and with opportunities that include sponsoring projects as a service. Additionally, the course content needs reassessment to ensure all stakeholders value it equally. These findings can help other capstone programs view the changing needs of industry sponsors and measure their satisfaction, in order to identify program improvements to increase industry participation and student benefits.
Elizabeth Meier, University of Florida
Edward Latorre-Navarro, University of Florida
In Spring 2020, the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (MAE) Department at the University of Florida (UF) added a mandatory second semester to its existing one-semester capstone design program. Previously an elective, the newly required second course challenges students to build functional prototypes of designs created on-paper in the sequence’s first semester. Given MAE’s enrollment of over 1,800 mechanical engineering undergraduates, more than 175 seniors (among the largest such cohorts in the country) must be shepherded through the capstone program each semester. A new and novel set of instructional and course administration techniques largely borrowed from industry was implemented to manage this large-enrollment realization phase of the UF MAE Capstone program. One component of this new approach is joint authorship and course adoption of a new Open Educational Resource (OER) engineering capstone design textbook, a free and accessible resource that students may retain as they transition into professional practice. An important attribute of the OER text is emphasis on engineering design case studies borrowed from real capstone projects as opposed to examples taken from industry. This emphasis, unique among engineering design texts, is intended to improve the content’s intellectual accessibility for students by framing design problems in contexts relevant to their experience. This paper chronicles how a diverse team including UF faculty, librarians, academic administrators, instructional designers, and academic publishers are collaborating to produce this OER engineering design text.
Matthew J. Traum, University of Florida
Sean R. Niemi, University of Florida
Perry Collins, University of Florida
Micah Q. Jenkins, University of Florida
Samuel R. Putnam, University of Florida
Christopher M. Pinkoson, University of Florida
Romi Gutierrez, University Press of Florida
While cross-disciplinary collaborations between students are encouraged in the university setting, there are many issues in achieving this learning outcome. In particular, when the disciplines are inherently diverse (e.g. computing and architecture) and use very different learning and teaching approaches, this type of collaborations can give mixed results. This paper discusses the successes and failures of crossdisciplinary collaborations involving three diverse disciplines via two case studies. In addition to describing the diverse nature of the learning and teaching approaches adopted in each case study, the paper identifies curriculum and assessment design, the commitment of program coordinators, the structure and dynamics of the collaborative student relationships, and differing scholarly cultures as the main factors that decide the success of such collaborations. The paper highlights the need for re-thinking the learning and teaching approaches needed to facilitate the collaboration between inherently different disciplines.
Jim Pettigrew, Western Sydney University, Australia
Jeewani Anupama Ginige, Western Sydney University, Australia
The goal of this study was to compare student, faculty, and alumni jury evaluations of the same set of 30 projects. Students were asked to identify the most innovative project at a ‘prototype preview’ day. Faculty assessed communication, project management, and completeness of delivered design. A jury of alumni from industry evaluated the final posters and presentations, particularly focusing on projects that most completely solved the problem or that had the biggest potential impact. Scores and evaluations from all three sources were compared using Pearson’s Product Moment correlation and t-tests to determine statistically significant differences. The projects favored by each type of evaluator were compared to look for similarities and differences between the three groups. A positive correlation (R = 0.47, P=0.008 at a = 0.05) was found between high jury scores and high peer scores. There were also significant differences between the top 10 and bottom 10 projects for the 3 evaluators for all criteria, with the exception of prototype score for the alumni jury. Agreement among the evaluators is more pronounced for low ranking projects than high ranking projects. Results indicate that the three viewpoints, while noticeably different in some respects, collectively can be used to identify innovative, well managed, and well communicated projects.
Bridget M. Smyser, Northeastern University
In a large engineering capstone course, it is a challenge for instructors to connect with each team to monitor status and provide input when needed to help ensure student and project success. To combat this, we have established a sequence of three internal design reviews located at important checkpoints during the project cycle. These internal design reviews consist of a Detailed Design Approval (DDA) review held near the end of the first semester and a Project Readiness Review (PRR) followed by the demonstration of a Mandatory First Prototype (MFP) held in the latter half of the second semester. Each of these reviews provides an opportunity for the instructors to meet each team individually, assess their status, and provide feedback. If a team is found to be at risk, this is an opportunity to provide individualized guidance. To gauge the effectiveness of the PRR/MFP process, we conducted a survey of 41 mechanical and biomedical engineering students from three different semesters. The results indicate the PRR/MFP process is a useful tool to promote team preparedness and increase project success in engineering capstone courses. As an added benefit, the design reviews provide students with additional opportunities to practice presenting and defending their work.
Jamie Gravell, The University of Texas at Dallas
Robert Hart, The University of Texas at Dallas
Todd Polk, The University of Texas at Dallas
Since 2005, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CE) at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT) has incorporated at least one international design project into its 31 year old, year-long, client-based capstone design course. During this period, 78 students have worked on 19 projects in nine countries: Ghana, Trinidad, Pakistan, Sudan, India, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Haiti and Kenya. The CE Department at Rose-Hulman for the most part, has collaborated with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana. To foster cross-learning for students from the two institutions a “Joint Project Model” was implemented. Through this Global Service-Learning (GSL), students from Ghana and the US experience the global-working environment. However, since 2016 we have not been able to build on our collaborative work with KNUST due to challenges associated with this model. These partnerships are very complex due to working across cultures. Furthermore, the policies of each country’s government and the colleges and universities involved play an important role in shaping the realities of the experience. This paper discusses efforts made at building sustainable overseas partnerships with an academic institution and a renowned consulting firm in Ghana utilizing a Global Service-Learning (GSL) model. Additionally, the paper describes the assessment tool planned for these partnerships.
John Aidoo, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Frank Ohene Annor, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
Shannon Sipes, Indiana University
Kwaku Boampong, ABP Consult, Ghana
Kathy Hammett, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
CSCI 401 is an undergraduate computer science capstone course offered at the University of Southern California. In this paper, we describe the design and organization of the course. We specifically discuss the various aspects of the course structure and address the choices that influenced their design. We document our experiences and learnings from designing and running an undergraduate capstone course at scale.
Suhrid Karthik, University of Southern California
Jeffrey Miller, University of Southern California
Mentorship by a corporate liaison (corporate mentor) and a faculty coach (technical mentor) are often offered to students, as they fulfil the requirements of sponsored senior design projects. The mentor’s background (functional versus project-based) and capability (technical area of expertise) play an important role in the type of mentorship offered to the students. Some factors that influence the type of mentorship offered while serving as corporate mentor or technical mentor to capstone teams are presented in this paper. Being aware of these factors can help students appreciate their mentors and avoid generalizing the senior design experience to working in industry as a whole.
Dani Fadda, The University of Texas at Dallas