The 2022 Capstone Design Conference
June 6-8, 2022, Dallas, TX, USA
While many capstone programs focus on connecting students with industrial or research lab sponsors to work on real-world projects, a small team of engineering and liberal arts faculty at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has been reflecting on ways to connect students directly with grassroots, community-based organizations to work on projects identified and prioritized by local communities. Other universities offer engineering capstone projects with non-profit partners, but these programs typically follow service-learning (EPICS) or social entrepreneurship models (Ashoka U). We are focusing on developing capstone experiences using best practices of democratic community engagement to achieve “communal” rather than “transactional” relationships. Doing so requires providing students with additional training and advising so that they are able to engage partners with respect, transparency, and the goal of building trust in a long-term relationship that provides mutual value. In addition, engaged projects rarely fall neatly into disciplinary boxes or university calendars, which necessitates taking a transdisciplinary and multi-semester approach. We set out to develop a flexible course that could serve as an alternative to the capstone courses in multiple colleges for students who aspire to work in community-engaged contexts after graduation. With the support of a VentureWell Course and Program Grant, we piloted our Collaborative Community Capstone course in Fall 2021.
Sarah Brownell, Rochester Institute of Technology
Capstone design projects are typically performed in teams, but measuring individual participation and performance can be challenging. This work-in-progress reviews the process of implementing individual performance reviews in the engineering capstone design course at Smith College in AY2122. Previously, individual accountability had been evaluated through a combination of quarterly peer reviews and end-of-semester logbook entry review. For the AY2122 course, the capstone teaching team piloted performance reviews as a replacement to the logbook review process. The performance review form was informed by examples used in industry by program alumni. Preliminary results suggest that students' individual participation and performance can be evaluated effectively through these performance reviews while also preparing students for a review process that is ubiquitous in professional engineering practice.
Aaron J. Rubin, Smith College
Susannah Howe, Smith College
Michael Kinsinger, Smith College
Proper planning for Senior Capstone Design courses is important to establish an effective academic environment that is as close as possible to real engineering practice world. However, this does not guarantee freedom from challenges. In the first part of this paper a description of the critical milestones required to form an effective Senior Design environment, based on years of experience and best practices, is provided. In the second part of the paper, a set of selected challenges are described alongside the methods and techniques used to handle them and turn them into educational opportunities. In addition, this paper discusses how to handle challenges by using a selected example from the Capstone Design projects. The NASA-Psyche competition projects sponsored by Arizona State University and the NASA Psyche Mission are used as examples to explain the concepts because of their unique formation characterizing the content of this paper.
Aws Al-Shalash, University of Texas at Tyler
Muath Bani Salim, University of Texas at Tyler
Nael Barakat,University of Texas at Tyler
Between the four authors, we have many years of experience in teaching capstone courses in undergraduate Engineering programs and bringing student-led projects to fruitful completion. Within those, we have a successful track record with computer and engineering projects, where students develop software and hardware for external sponsors with real-world needs, real requirements, and real users. At the end of these projects, student teams deliver working prototypes to their project sponsors, which are often deployed internally within their organizations, or as webapps or cross platform apps, or mobile apps available on an App Marketplace.
One of the top goals of such capstone projects is to prepare students for their future jobs and careers in Information Technology and related fields and to experience the demands, challenges, and uncertainties of â€œreal worldâ€ projects as much as possible. This implies not only technical skills in all aspects of the development lifecycle, including software requirements (use cases, user stories), software architecture and design (UML diagrams, etc.), UI/UX design and usability engineering (wireframes, low and high fidelity mockups, etc.), software implementation and testing, and integration and deployment; but also non-technical skills such as professional communication and professional behavior (with their sponsors and teachers), personal dependability and team-work responsibility (towards their teammates), time-management, and project-management skills and tools (such as JIRA, Trello, Asana, Notion.so, etc.)
During these 20+ years, and still today, more and more organizations are shifting their software-development to the Agile framework and, specifically, to the well-known SCRUM method which was first described by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in "the new product development Game" . SCRUM is the most popular and heavily used Agile method in real-world software-development, and it inherently follows the principles and values set forth in the Agile Manifesto. It introduces several new roles in software project management (such as SCRUM Master and Product Owner), iterative and incremental activities, artifacts and deliverables and, most relevant to this paper, five ceremonies that should be followed and exercised regularly by SCRUM teams.
Thus, one of our top goals within this topic of software process and project management, is for student teams to follow Agile values and principles, and SCRUM activities and best practices as much as possible including the five SCRUM ceremonies:
Hadar Ziv, University of California Irvine, USA
Stavros Kalafatis, Texas A&M, USA
Luciano Soares, Insper, Brazil
Rafael Prikladnicki, PUCRS University, Brazil
Honors programs that require a capstone for graduation face a dilemma when students are in majors that also require a capstone, senior thesis, or project. The dilemma is whether to require a separate honors capstone or to recognize work done in fulfillment of a student’s major. At issue is the concern for requiring more work of certain students because of the expectations of their majors (the capstone-on-top-of-capstone model) or accepting as capstones work that is not particular to honors students. In this paper, we present data from thirteen institutions offering honors programs and discuss the many alternatives adopted by those institutions to handle the capstone on top of capstone dilemma.
William Ziegler, Binghamton University – State University of New York
Andrea Radasanu, Northern Illinois University
Heidi Appel, University of Toledo
Ralph Keen, University of Illinois - Chicago
Many engineering programs conclude with a culminating capstone design experience. Assessment of student outcomes in capstone courses is common for several reasons. Students are typically nearing graduation and are better prepared to demonstrate attainment of the outcome. Capstone courses commonly teach and require “soft skills” such as communication, ethical and professional responsibility, teamwork, and understanding the broader impact of engineering solutions. Outcomes of this type are typically difficult to assess in traditional engineering courses that focus on theory and problem solving.
A majority of engineering programs are accredited by ABET. Criterion 3 prescribes seven student outcomes, the attainment of which prepares graduates for professional practice. The Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing at California State University Chico has developed an assessment plan where five of the seven outcomes are assessed in the two-semester capstone design course sequence. This paper details the assessment methods, instruments, and metrics used to measure attainment of student outcomes within the capstone design sequence. It also shares early experiences from the process.
Gregory Watkins, California State University Chico
Senior Design and Capstone courses are an opportunity to develop a variety of critical skills in engineering students and prepare them as future innovators. Among other requirements (e.g., environmental consciousness, leadership, teamwork), innovation requires an entrepreneurial mindset. For this reason, having a collaboration with Business makes sense, but it can be truly challenging to initiate. The objective of this paper is to present an Engineering Senior Design – Business (E-B) collaboration model that can potentially serve as a blueprint to kickstart a collaboration between an engineering senior design or capstone design course and a business course such as new venture creation, intro to entrepreneurship, or similar. The paper presents a balance between the theory of the model and its practical implementation at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), a Minority Serving Institution (MSI) with an incipient emerging I&E (Innovation & Entrepreneurship) ecosystem. The model was developed using the PARE (Preparation, Action, Reflection and Evaluation) approach and 5 years of collaboration experience by the authors (professors from Engineering and Business).
Noe Vargas Hernandez, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Sylvia Robles, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Structure in the form of design phases, phase exit checklists, learning modules, an example project, and a comprehensive handbook has transformed the mechanical engineering capstone design courses at Arizona State University. Prior to adding structure, over half of the projects failed to result in a complete and tested engineering prototype and a comprehensive final report. Based on industry product development processes and several iterations of course materials with student feedback, the authors have created a handbook and course structure that now results in all projects being completed on-time and within budget. These projects demonstrate that the teams meet all the ABET student outcomes as determined by an industry-led assessment fair. In addition, the students demonstrate their ability to use the entrepreneurial mindset as measured by the EM@FSE 2.0 Indicators developed at ASU as part of a Kern Foundation grant. This paper describes this structure, provides capstone project examples, presents objective evidence of course improvements and suggests ways of using this structure in other capstone courses.
Steven W. Trimble, Arizona State University (ASU)
Abdelrahman N. Shuaib, Arizona State University (ASU)
For sixteen years, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CE) at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT) has incorporated at least one international design project in its yearlong, capstone design course. Past collaborations involved partnerships with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana and other international non-technical clients in various Asian, African, and Central American countries. However, in 2018, the CE Department at Rose-Hulman sought to establish collaborative work with ABP Consult, one of the leading private consulting firms in Ghana because of the benefits of such partnership. Based on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ABP Consult, we began our first collaboration in the 2019-20 academic year. The project involved the upgrade of existing infrastructure in an urban community in Ghana. As part of the capstone design requirements, a student team of five civil engineering seniors was commissioned to work on this project. In the fall of 2019, the student team had the invaluable experience of undertaking a site reconnaissance trip to Ghana. This paper discusses the framework that was established for guided mentorship by ABP Consult, the assessment tool utilized during our visit and plans for a long-lasting partnership with ABP Consult.
Anna Thompson, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Kajun Miller, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Matt Robinson, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Michaela Biske, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Parker Brady, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
John Aidoo, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Frank Ohene Annor, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Ghana
Shannon Sipes, Indiana University
Kwaku Boampong, ABP Consult Ltd, Ghana
Namita Shrestha, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
The NASA Psyche mission includes an ongoing Student Collaborations program focused on engaging undergraduates from all disciplines at scale. The largest effort involves sponsorship of capstone projects at universities nationwide. To date, this program has worked with 1,122 undergraduate seniors at 15 universities during their senior capstone courses across a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary projects1,2. Unlike corporate industry sponsors that may have a mechanism to offer specific jobs to individual students following completion of a project, the mission does not have a pipeline for direct employment. Instead, the mission's sponsorship of 50-60 project teams per year includes supplementary professional development opportunities for participants: 1) NASA and industry speakers and networking opportunities, 2) targeted scientific and technical guidance, and 3) one-on-one discussions, employment guidance, references and letters of recommendation, and alumni connections3. Because the mission's role is as an industry sponsor, these offerings all occur outside the participants' regular capstone courses (and grading structure) and are not required of the participants nor offered for extra credit. With many competing demands on seniors' time4,5, only a subset of the participants actually take part, even though participant feedback consistently shows that students want more interaction with industry professionals and opportunities for networking2. This abstract addresses the conference topics of expectations (sponsor, faculty, and students), industry relationships, and student issues. We report on the professional development opportunities offered, the levels of student participation (and lack thereof), and discussion of potential improvements, some of which may be undertaken by industry sponsors independently, but others that will require integrated efforts between industry sponsors and the university capstone courses and faculty.
Adriana Talamante, Arizona State University
Catherine D. D. Bowman, Arizona State University
Linda T. Elkins-Tanton, Arizona State University
Rona Oran, Massachussets Institute of Technology
Ravi Prakash, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Engineering Capstone Design programs can serve as highly effective venues for integration of entrepreneurship-related concepts. Toward this end, the University of Idaho has successfully piloted an integration between a statewide pre-collegiate invention competition with the undergraduate engineering capstone design program to enhance innovation and development of students’ entrepreneurial mind set. In 2021, a trial run of this collaboration was piloted, with undergraduate students mentoring young inventors via Zoom. One of the invention ideas (from a 7th grade participant) was converted to a capstone project, resulting in a functional prototype and formal Invention Disclosure. Follow-up surveys indicated positive impacts from the mentoring process, while the capstone project enabled students to position themselves as a startup venture. This unique process enables all participants to engage their entrepreneurial spirit, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds.
Matthew Swenson, University of Idaho
George Tanner, University of Idaho
Sophia Wieber, University of Idaho
Steven Beyerlein, University of Idaho
Conflict resolution is a critical part of effective teamwork, yet it is not always addressed directly in capstone design courses. This paper presents a multi-faceted approach to training students to manage conflict on their capstone design teams which has been developed over 10 years of continuous improvement cycles at the University of Colorado Boulder. The approach includes team-based activities, trainings, advising/mentoring strategies, and information gathering, which support students in their development of a conflict management toolkit. In self-assessment surveys completed by our students, we find a significant increase in student confidence that they will be able to ‘resolve conflict in a satisfactory way’ from pre- to mid- and post- surveys, indicating that students recognize and acknowledge development in these skills during their capstone experience.
Julie E. Steinbrenner, University of Colorado Boulder
Daria A. Kotys-Schwartz, University of Colorado Boulder
Daniel W. Knight, University of Colorado Boulder
Multiple peer-review approaches have been utilized to conduct peer-review assessments in a Capstone design course in the Mechanical and Materials Engineering program, at Queenâ€™s University, Kingston, ON. The need to improve the timeliness of feedback provided to students on their Individual Draft of the Final Design Report assignment was addressed using a peer-review process. Validation of the process was done using a low-stakes Motivation assignment using the AropÃ online system. Each time the process was used the majority of the class were able to demonstrate a reasonable level of effort in providing both quality and quantity of feedback, as well as subjective assessments of their peer's work using a rubric.
Jan S. Sneep, Queen's University, Kingston, ON
Angelica J. Campigotto, Queen's University, Kingston, ON
A 2013 paper by the author showed that an improved junior level lab course provided new skills that were adopted by capstone design students. Since that time additional material has been added to the lab course to emphasize experimentation as an integral part of the design process. The current work examines whether the new skills were equally absorbed by the capstone design students. Use of skills such as design of experiments, statistical data analysis, Arduino programming, and instrumental uncertainty increased significantly since the initial study.
Bridget Smyser, Northeastern University
Project Management and Systems Engineering are integral components of the Senior Design Capstone Program in Mechanical Engineering at San Diego State University. Requirements management, risk management, cost, schedule and scope management, requirements verification and key program milestones including design reviews have been implemented. This paper provides an overview of the program with emphasis on the implementation of Project Management and Systems Engineering practices. Key course metrics are provided as well as project sponsor and student feedback.
Scott Shaffar, Department of Mechanical Engineering, San Diego State University
The way teams are formed can have a significant impact on both team performance and student attitudes toward the course1. The main audience for this work is experienced capstone instructors who would like to help the other faculty in their department make informed decisions while forming teams. Newer faculty often ask for advice on managing teams from the faculty mentors who primarily teach project-based classes such as capstone design. Prior experiences that senior students receive before coming to a capstone design course are important because they can significantly influence the students’ perceptions when dealing with teams.
This work summarizes the advantages of various methods of team formation and strategies that may help mitigate negative impacts, as described in the literature. The information is summarized as a one-page visual team formation handout that highlights the key aspects of each method and acts as a guide to make informed decisions regarding which method to use. Our goal is to mitigate some anxiety around the complicated topic of team formation. The idea is to help instructors choose team formation strategies that will facilitate course learning objectives. As a disclaimer, this one-pager was created for small class sizes at the authors’ institution. While many of these strategies will work for larger class sizes, the logistics of managing large numbers of students might necessitate special consideration of effort level in the choice of team formation methods. A few key ideas from the team formation one-pager are summarized below.
Shraddha Sangelkar, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Benjamin Mertz, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Ashley Bernal, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Patrick Cunningham, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Engineering capstone courses often include a number of writing assignments. The purpose of these assignments is typically to guide students through the engineering design process and provide means of evaluating their progress and performance. While the engineering content of these assignments is of primary importance, the quality of the technical writing is also deemed important to the course outcomes. However, effectively grading the individual student writing assignments can be challenging for course instructors and in large-enrollment classes it may simply be impossible to both effectively and thoughtfully grade the papers in time for prompt feedback. Also, capstone instructors may lack the writing skills to evaluate the quality of the writing and provide meaningful comments to the students for improvement. Alternatives such as the use of full-time writing co-instructors or graduate teaching assistants has been found to be ineffective as the workload occurs in surges that overwhelm the graders. Thus, the Oregon State University School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering capstone course uses a pool of part-time professional technical writers as writing graders. This approach has been found to be an effective means of providing quality, timely feedback on capstone individual student and team written assignments. Scoring variation among the three technical writers is addressed using a common rubric and statistical correction of grades. Overall, the approach provides a good solution to the challenges of grading student writing in capstone.
John P. Parmigiani, Oregon State University
Jeffrey A. Hoffman, Oregon State University
Sarah Oman, Oregon State University
Joseph Piacenza, Oregon State University
Lynn Merritt Ekstedt, Oregon State University
The student design team is the core of the capstone ecosystem, and robust methods for cultivating team dynamics are essential to capstone research and practice. Much progress has been made in this domain, but operational (i.e., applied) methods for enhancing team effectiveness trail theoretical advances. The Wake Forest Engineering Capstone Design team is developing an integrative evidence-based practice approach that capitalizes on diverse academic and professional practices. Essential drivers of this approach are discussed, and Wake Forest’s working team effectiveness toolset is demonstrated to provide a basis for other capstone design teams to explore the potential of evidence-based practice.
Jesse Pappas, Wake Forest University
Olga Pierrakos, Wake Forest University
ABET accreditation requires engineering students to demonstrate an ability to function within teams that provide leadership. Recent engineering leadership studies of capstone design teams indicate that shared leadership may relate to better capstone team effectiveness and be a more applicable model than more traditional vertical leadership models. Literature suggests that team attributes may play a role in how shared leadership develops within capstone design teams, but there is little empirical evidence to support that claim. This study examines the relationship between various team attributes and the development of shared leadership for undergraduate, mechanical engineering capstone design teams using an adaptation of the Full Range of Leadership model, specifically Transformational/Contingent Reward (TCR) leadership behaviors. Overall, this study suggests that attributes of the members who are assigned to capstone design teams may relate to the leadership experience these students have. Results indicate that a team’s engineering GPA diversity may centralize and diminish the shared TCR leadership in capstone design teams. The average amount of self-reported leadership skills within the team may increase the overall amount of shared TCR leadership with teams.
LTC Brian J. Novoselich, P.E., United States Military Academy
Dr. David B. Knight, Virginia Tech
This paper reports on a structured approach to teaching and managing capstone design that we have developed at the University of Rhode Island in the Mechanical Engineering Program. The method applies to all types of design projects, including process or product design. The structured approach is based on a two-semester capstone design sequence. The first semester consists of defining the problem, conceptualizing solutions, analyzing, deciding among alternatives, and prototyping (DCP). The second semester consists of building a working model, testing, and redesign (BTR). We first developed capstone courses in 2007 and continuously made improvements each year to the present day.
Bahram Nassersharif, University of Rhode Island
Senior capstone design courses provide a learning experience for undergraduate students that typically synthesizes content knowledge from their degree and often incorporates exposure to industry practice through client partnerships. Howe and Goldberg write that “although capstone design courses are common across engineering programs, they vary substantially in the way they are implemented”1. The first large-scale survey of capstone engineering courses was conducted by Todd et al. in 1995 2. They showed that in 1995, 48% of reporting universities delivered lectures in parallel to a design project, 28% held a lecture course before students completed a project, and 74% did not include any lecture component. Compared to 1995, Howe and Goldberg report that in 2019 the delivery of capstone courses with lecture and project in parallel has increased to 68%1. Further, Todd et al. report that in 1995, 45% delivered capstone in a single semester whereas 36% percent delivered it over two semesters2. In comparison, Howe and Goldberg’s results show that capstone delivery over two semesters has increased to 54%1. Clearly, there has been shift towards a two-semester capstone with a project parallel to lecture content.
Some research has focused on capstone courses in specific disciplines such as chemical engineering3 or mechanical engineering4. Others have explored the benefits of multidisciplinary capstone courses across disciplines broadly, where multidisciplinary capstone teams have been shown to out-perform monodisciplinary teams through measures of utility, communication skills, and technical analysis5. Whether senior capstone design courses are delivered in one or two semesters, with or without lecture, in parallel or sequentially, questions remain about what exactly students are learning in these courses and how learning outcomes are explicitly being measured.
To understand assessment in capstone design, McKenzie et al. conducted a study with two phases: a broad survey focused on assessment of ABET criteria followed by interviews6. They found that ABET criteria were generally not well assessed and that faculty had concerns about assessment practices and mismeasurement of student achievement in their capstone design courses6. Of key importance, they found that most faculty interviewed had little to no formal assessment training but showed interest in improving their assessment practices6. These observations reveal an opportunity to formalize an assessment approach for senior capstone design courses that is grounded in educational theory. A formalized assessment approach can guide best-practices for future refinements that help ensure universities are able to explicitly evaluate learning outcomes for their students.
In this paper, we draw attention to a potential student learning deficit in capstone design courses that stems from a lack of opportunity to learn from instructor, client, or peer feedback. Given that these courses are typically delivered with lecture and project in parallel over two semesters, these courses may not be structured in a way that allows feedback to facilitate learning. We argue that students do not get the chance to apply what they learn from formative feedback to their design projects since students typically complete a single project swiftly progressing through the design process. Through a structured educational approach incorporating intentional formative and summative assessment, we assert that student learning in capstone design courses can be enhanced and explicitly measured.
Alexander R. Murphy, The University of Texas at Dallas
Apurva Patel, The University of Texas at Dallas
Joshua D. Summers, The University of Texas at Dallas
The capstone project helps students to apply the engineering fundamentals, prepares for future challenges, and provides an opportunity to work in teams while finding solutions to real-world, open-ended technology-related problems. With a variety of stakeholders (eg, students, mentors, examiners, coordinators, and heads) managing such a large project is a challenging task. In this paper, we present an open-source Capstone Project Management Portal, which aims to provide the facility to manage all the processes involved in a one-year-long project. Until now a large number of universities and colleges manage these processes manually or using semi-automated approaches. Research into the workflow of this entire system revealed major data inconsistency and redundancy issues leading to the development of the proposed open-source portal.
Divya Prakash Mittal, Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, Thapar Institute of
Engineering & Technology, Patiala, India
Ramit Koul, Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, Thapar Institute of
Engineering & Technology, Patiala, India
Utkarsh Chauhan, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology, Patiala, India
Aryamaan Pandey, Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, Thapar Institute of
Engineering & Technology, Patiala, India
Vinay Kumar1, Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, Thapar Institute of
Engineering & Technology, Patiala, India
Writing is integral to the two-semester capstone sequence in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at Northeastern University. The writing content needs to satisfy university and ABET requirements. Students perceived the existing writing requirements as distraction from their technical work. An update to the Industrial Engineering capstone program is described. An integrated set of assignments using templates efficiently uses student time without unnecessarily restricting creativity or the needs of specific projects. A simplified set of lectures and resources gives students a framework for good storytelling and style. A transparent and explicit grading rubric emphasizes both the course requirements and ABET skills. Skill gaps, observed to be primarily dependent on secondary education and first language, are addressed through the iterative structure of the assignments, teamwork and peer learning, and mentoring.
Hugh L. McManus, Northeastern University
With any large group project, being able to work effectively as a team is the backbone to the project’s success. Nowhere is this clearer, than with capstone teams comprised of student engineers who are getting their first experience with larger projects that last two semesters. Not only are the projects larger in scope than most students have experienced, they often require engineering students from different disciplines to work together to complete a variety of sequential and non-sequential tasks. The combination of inexperienced engineering students, long timelines, and different engineering backgrounds often leads to teams being divided, which greatly hinders the performance output of the team. In this work, we will discuss some of the challenges that appear when capstone engineering students are required to collaborate amongst themselves, along with psychological tools that can be used to potentially create better team performance, as well as achieve a more fulfilling experience. The overarching goal is to help ensure students complete the capstone class with a successful project, and confidence in their ability to work as a team, which will make them better engineers in industry.
Jordan Linford, New Mexico State University
Megan Trujillo, New Mexico State University
Professor Luke Nogales, New Mexico State University
Many capstone programs have been successful in featuring service-learning projects and current trends show more programs venturing in this concept as part of their community outreach efforts and providing their students opportunities for societal and global impact. A major challenge in these efforts is funding the development, deployment and long-term preservation of the service-learning projects. This work-in-progress examines the funding initiatives that have been successful and explores further ideas for funding. The authors share the preliminary findings with the capstone community, anticipating feedback to help develop a resource of funding ideas to either initiate or further develop service-learning capstone projects.
Edward Latorre-Navarro, University of Florida
Elizabeth Meier, University of Florida
In this paper, the author reflects on his experience and lessons learned teaching capstone course since August 2019. Further, he discusses the reasons why we do capstone projects, objectives of the mechanical engineering capstone program at George Mason University (Mason), funding streams for capstone projects and the enrichment of the educational experiences of senior students. Purpose of the paper is to pique the readers’ interest in generating ideas for capstone programs, have a healthy discussion of the status quo, how to improve the capstone planning and funding process, and enhance student learning experiences through capstone. Currently in his third year of teaching capstone courses, the author will generate discussions based on experience in engineering practice, ABET requirements, Mason curricular requirements, feedback from students and collaboration with sponsors. Author will use his extensive experience that includes 30 years of engineering practice, 20 years as an ABET volunteer expert in which he served as a commissioner with the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET for the last five years, to guide the discussion and generate ideas for way ahead.
Nathan M. Kathir, George Mason University
Capstone design can have a powerful effect in preparing engineering students for their careers. It is also accompanied by varying levels of uncertainty as students often navigate uncharted territory. Recognizing that many capstone students have limited experience interacting with clients, a set of rubrics was previously developed to support capstone students in preparing for and executing their meetings with clients, especially the first meeting. While student feedback was positive regarding such tools, the tools’ very nature could reduce critical thinking via rote application. Accordingly, the Three Intelligences Methodology -involving a planned three-phase guided interactive exercise- has been designed, developed, implemented, and evaluated to increase student engagement in and ownership of the rubrics, as well as to foster team building early in the capstone design experience. This paper reports on an exercise that applies the Three Intelligences Methodology to the initial client meeting in Capstone, presents some surprising results and lessons learned, outlines some best practices, and provides recommendations for applying the methodology or variants thereof elsewhere.
B. Kris Jaeger-Helton, Northeastern University,
Susannah Howe, Smith College
John K. Estell, Ohio Northern University
Communication is a critical component of preparing engineering students to enter the workforce. The requisite skills include communication to technical and non-technical audiences, which is reflected in ABET’s student outcomes. The aims of this paper are to: (1) present methodologies for measuring “effective” communication competency, (2) share observations of areas in which engineering students struggle, and (3) identify potential teaching strategies to support the development of student communication skills. The design experiences and assessment process are used as a framework to evaluate and discuss the development of students with a multi-dimensional communication competency.
Rachel E. Horenstein, University of Denver
Goncalo Martins, University of Denver
Peter J. Laz, University of Denver
This paper describes our experiences incorporating robotics projects into a two-semester Electrical Engineering Capstone course. The projects include multiple EE disciplines such as power, motor control, sensors, and routing software. Our first robotics projects in 2016 were based on the IEEE Region 5 challenge. Since that time, we have completed thirteen robot designs with six in progress. We typically assign the same project definition to multiple teams which enables end-of-semester “co-op-etitions” between the different design implementations. Some notable challenges encountered include determining how to seed the teams with early material, the expense of obtaining a competition field, and a propensity for the mechanical design and fabrication to take too much time away from the required electrical engineering course content. All teams present their projects at an end-of-semester in-person Senior Design Day event. During COVID-19 restrictions we also evaluated projects virtually using Zoom. The projects and associated competitions consistently draw a crowd both of students and design day attendees. It is our hope that our findings will benefit others who are considering the incorporation of robotics into their EE Capstone course.
Lee B. Hinkle, Texas State University
Mark W. Welker, Texas State University
Jeffrey Stevens, Texas State University
The instructional team of the interdisciplinary senior design program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has been struggling with a mismatch between instructors’ implicit goals for student learning and the rubrics used to assess students. The instructional team is revising course assessment rubrics to correspond with a set of student learning objectives. Learning objectives will be developed as smaller-scale, measurable student behaviors that demonstrate meeting the high-level course outcomes. The new rubrics are expected to make assessment more reliable between graders and more useful to students to direct their learning.
Alexis B. Gillmore, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
R. Keith Stanfill, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Capstone plays an important role in the curriculum, providing a means to assess the readiness of engineering students to enter the workforce. Traditional letter grades provide a reasonable assessment of student performance but are not typically used in industry to evaluate employees. This paper aims to bridge the gap between industry-based and traditional academic assessments by developing a new grading system. The new system incorporates performance evaluation metrics commonly used in industry into a specifications-based assessment scheme. Rubrics were developed to describe the expectations required to pass each specification. Student surveys were administered both before and after the new grading system was used. Overall, students responded positively to the industry-based grading system.
Joshua Gargac, Ohio Northern University
Developing a vibrant Senior Capstone Design program requires a lot of work and time. Making the projects not only exciting to students, but applicable to today’s needs can be certainly challenging. As choices are made, consideration of project difficulty, appropriate application of knowledge acquired over the last three years, and team formation are all critical. Still one more area many ponder is how can the experience be created such that it mimics “real-world” engineering teams. This can be achieved by involving multiple disciplines, members with differing levels of experience, and even team members located at different sites.
In many institutions, the first two are easily met. Projects often require a minimum of mechanical and electrical engineering students. Computer science and physics majors can also be thrown into the mix. As for differing levels of experience, there may not be large age differences, but the knowledge and experience can vary enough to replicate the strain introduced by “differing levels of experience” found in the industrial setting.
As mentioned, the third element, coordination of projects when team members are not at the same location, is not so widely seen. Most see this as too difficult to manage and achieve. Gaining experience in coordinating and collaborating over distance is crucial. Most finished products are not produced in one facility. Many components are designed at one site, manufactured in one or more countries, and shipped to another country for assembly. Engineers must assure all the components are properly designed to fit and operate as expected. They must develop fast and efficient ways to manufacture, build, and package the product. The real-world works over distances, so capturing this learning objective through a capstone project makes sense. Thus, intercollegiate collaboration was conceived and tried. Lessons learned, issues which should be considered before trying, and trial results are summarized.
Some capstone instructors in the past have tried collaboration between campuses located in different parts of the world. McAdams and Linsey presented a globally distributed capstone engineering design experience where collaborating students were split between the two campuses of Texas A&M; one located at College Station, Texas and the other located at Doha, Qatar1. A different model involving a joint project was presented by Aidoo et. al. where Rose Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT) initiated international collaboration with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology (KNUST) in Ghana2. Knudson and Grundy shared how an international capstone exchange experience occurred between North Dakota State University (NDSU) in Fargo, ND in the USA, and Swinburne University of Technology (SUT) in Australia3.
While most of the related literature was themed around globally-separated teams, a few examples of collaboration within continental United States were shared by Denzer4 and Goldberg and Howe5. The importance of periodic in-person meetings was emphasized by Denzer when long distance multi-disciplinary collaboration occurred between students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Montana State University, and the University of Wyoming4. Goldberg and Howe co-advised two virtual capstone design projects between Marquette University and Smith College5. They emphasized the importance of conducting frequent meetings with the entire team, including all students and both faculty advisors5.
The COVID pandemic brought with it many challenges and concerns. Teaching and learning modes were altered, and new approaches were quickly developed. One of the developments was the forced reliance on remote meetings and brain-storming sessions. Faculty as well as students became comfortable with talking with groups via the internet. Good communicate and a new level of listening had to be honed. Each of these elements were crucial as the intercollegiate collaboration concept was conceived. Expensive travel was no longer needed. A simple video call could be used not only for discussing ideas but also for seeing the progress at both sites. From this, the “forged” Senior Capstone group became a reality. Therefore, real-life engineering teams can be more easily simulated in a capstone
Michelle Clauss, Grove City College
Shraddha Sangelkar, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Jim Mayhew, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Vern Ulrich, Grove City College
The undergraduate Capstone in Informatics and Software Engineering at the University of California, Irvine matches students with external sponsors. Students spend two quarters developing software for their sponsor. Sponsors range across commercial, non-profit, academic, and government sectors, and vary widely in their level of technical knowledge/skill and in their experience working with students. Students follow both an Agile development approach as well as an “outsourcing model”, where they act as a software development and consulting outfit toward the sponsor, while the sponsor provides a liaison (“product owner”) to meet with the team regularly and provide design input, feedback, and advice. Teams meet weekly with instructors for project and professional mentorship. Class sessions provide opportunities for lectures, discussion, student presentations, and critique.
Learning goals for the Capstone course focus not only on the technical aspects of software design and development, but also on the practical organizational aspects of software projects. Students are expected to gain experience with all aspects of the software project, including defining project requirements and outcomes, making design and implementation decisions, day-to-day project management, and delivering working software.
Students generally come into the Capstone course with a strong and broad technical knowledge, and are generally well-prepared for the design and implementation work. However, we have found that most students have less preparation for the organizational aspects of their projects. In particular, most student training has been in classroom settings where the structure of tasks is well defined, the expectations are clear, and the instructor is an absolute authority. One skill that is particularly difficult to learn in the classroom but is crucial in organizational life is the ability to say “No” to an authority figure (a manager, employer, client, etc.).
Matthew J. Bietz, University of California, Irvine
Hadar Ziv, University of California, Irvine
This paper contributes one case study to the scholarly record by providing a programmatic overview of Capstone Design@Mines (D@M). D@M delivers a project-based, two-course senior design sequence for Mines’ undergraduate majors, serving over 500 students every term. D@M students work on interdisciplinary teams to design solutions to client-sponsored, client-supported challenges. Rather than focusing primarily on our program’s curricular goals or educational outcomes, this paper focuses attention on how we bring together diverse organizational resources into a coherent, repeatable, streamlined educational experience. Key resource domains that will be addressed include project portfolio management, instructional resources, and organizational support. By providing such a programmatic overview, this paper will explore the organizational design dimensions of interdisciplinary educational capstone program delivery at scale. We also share our program’s future directions, including efforts to increase the degree to which the program is financially self-sustaining.
Dean Nieusma, Colorado School of Mines
Kristine Csavina, Colorado School of Mines
John Persichetti, Colorado School of Mines