2024-conference-papers-and-posters

The 2024 Capstone Design Conference
June 3-5, 2024, Knoxville, TN, USA

Abstract:

This paper outlines Purdue’s School of Engineering Technology's (ET) capstone education structure utilized over the past decade. Implemented in a mandatory, two-semester, multidisciplinary course for all majors, the focus is on integrating the stage-gate process for project management with the engineering design cycle for effective problem-solving. This paper details how the stage-gate process is used to manage the project stages, while the engineering design cycle identifies relevant activities during each stage. Additionally, it identifies the necessary material and infrastructure for course implementation. The paper concludes with a discussion on challenges and lessons learned over 10 years. By sharing this capstone pedagogy, we aim to showcase a successful approach to ET capstone that others may wish to incorporate.

Authors:

Matthew Turner, Purdue University

Rustin Webster, Purdue University

Keywords:
stage-gate, engineering design cycle, project management, engineering technology
Abstract:

This paper describes the process for solicitation, support, and management of fee-based industry projects for capstone senior design projects at Colorado State University. Six different kinds of projects are described with the focus on the solicitation and management of industry involvement on projects. Consistent with the literature, the student’s capstone engineering experience is enhanced by industry involvement when advising and by providing support for project deliverables. Financial support is used for direct expenses related to deliverables of the project and by providing on-going support for the operation of the capstone program.

Authors:

Wade O. Troxell, Colorado State University

Keywords:
industry sponsorship, fee-based projects, capstone senior design
Abstract:

A key aim of Capstones is to improve the job-readiness of students which ideally requires engagement with industry sponsors, a new and elusive stakeholder group that can become an integral part of delivering a successful program. The sourcing of student projects and the interaction between students, sponsors and the teaching team, make the coordination and delivery of Capstones more complex than conventional teaching programs. Managing a Capstone program demands significantly more administrative support that is distinct from the teaching effort and often goes unrecognized.

This paper describes the motivation for developing, and the experiences using a database tool as a Capstone Administration System (CAS) to support the necessary logistics for each Capstone class. The CAS tool simplified many of the routine, time-consuming tasks enabling the teaching team to better support a doubling of the student cohort while improving the student experience. Continuous improvement of the tool is ongoing with the goal to identify and streamline the unique aspects of industry-focused Capstones to create a better student experience that improves learning outcomes.

Authors:

Louis J. Taborda, University of Sydney

Keywords:
capstone, logistics, database, tools
Abstract:

Engineering capstone design programs offer a natural venue for introducing entrepreneurial concepts and promoting entrepreneurial spirit within engineering students. With this intent, the University of Idaho has integrated with the NASA Technology Transfer University (T2U) program to create two unique capstone projects using NASA-patented technologies. These projects enabled students to leverage the technologies to design and create a potential product for commercialization. In this context, students are required to conduct some basic customer discovery and value proposition development to create an idea for a commercial product. In addition, this approach enables collaboration with a parallel team of entrepreneurship students to create a formal value proposition and draft business plan. The integration initiative with T2U offers unique opportunities for capstone design students, but also enables longer term opportunities for acquiring subsequent startup funding via the NSF and NASA I-CorpsTM programs.

Authors:

Matthew J. Swenson, University of Idaho

Michael R. Maughan, University of Idaho

Vibhav Durgesh, University of Idaho

George Tanner, University of Idaho

Keywords:
entrepreneurship, interdisciplinary, aerospace, innovation
Abstract:

While Capstone courses are typically designed to provide a cumulative review of an engineering curriculum with practical application, they should also play an integral role in engineering students’ transition from academia to industry. One way to achieve this is to provide students with industry problems to solve as a team over a single semester. Partnering with industry sponsors, Iowa State University’s department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering gives students the opportunity to execute real-world, industry projects with condensed timelines to immerse students into an environment similar to what they would experience when entering full-time into the workforce. Providing a structure with key milestones supports a logical approach to identify a solution while ensuring timely and complete execution of the project. The benefits of not only having an industry project but condensing the execution to a single-semester include logistical consistency and business relevancy. This paper outlines the overall course organization of a single- semester Capstone course with industry sponsored projects and benefits to both the students and clients of this pedagogical approach.

Authors:

Michelle Stallard (Voelker), Iowa State University

Keywords:
capstone, one-semester, Industry, organization
Abstract:

As part of graduation requirements, the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University – Vancouver (WSU-V) requires a two-semester course in capstone design experience. The main objective of this course is to allow students the opportunity to undertake and complete an open-ended design project. Team-based capstone design courses provide opportunities for students, not only to apply their classroom-based knowledge and skills learned in the course work, but also to develop project management, teamwork, scheduling, and communication skills in the form of both oral, written, and other formats. This paper discusses the strategies taken by the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University – Vancouver (WSU-V), to attract funding from the local industries to support their senior capstone design project(s). Since the engineering programs were established at WSU-V, in early 2000, our engineering students have been working on their capstone design project(s) sponsored by the local industries without any fees. However, most universities in the region have been charging some fees for the industry project(s) for many years. Starting the 2022-2023 academic year, we initiated the request for reasonably low fees in support of their proposed capstone projects. The procedure and the outcomes are presented in this discussion.

Authors:

Hamid Rad, Washington State University - Vancouver

John Lynch, Washington State University - Vancouver

Keywords:
capstone design project, project sponsorship, industry-sponsored funding, multidisciplinary project
Abstract:

It is a challenge for instructors of large engineering capstone cohorts to provide adequate mentorship to a large number of teams. To provide each team with the support that they need, we assign a Team Mentor (TM) that meets the team weekly to guide them and to provide support as the project progresses. These mentors can be divided into five distinct groups – the instructors themselves, tenured/tenure-track faculty, non-tenure track (teaching) faculty, graduate student/post-doctoral researchers, and external engineers. Each team member evaluates their TM at the end of each semester of the two-semester project. A total of 2637 individual evaluations across 285 projects in 11 separate capstone cohorts were completed, and that data is presented in this paper. Overall the TMs rate very highly, with minor differences between the TM source groups. The authors have created a training program to help TMs acclimate to the role, and all TMs (even experienced ones) are required to attend. We believe that this training has been beneficial in helping the TMs hit the ground running with their teams, and with feedback and improvement over time, the training has kept evaluations scores high.

Authors:

Todd Polk, The University of Texas at Dallas

Robert Hart, The University of Texas at Dallas

Keywords:
team mentor, capstone, evaluation, survey
Abstract:

In previous papers, Oregon State University has outlined their work using Technical Writing Evaluators (TWEs) in the grading process of individual reports required in the School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering (MIME) Capstone Program. In short, TWEs provide technical writing expertise at a part-time hire opportunity, reducing the personnel requirements needed to support capstone grading. This paper serves as a follow-up to those efforts, emphasizing the use of the TWEs in the addition of a Multidisciplinary Capstone Program (MCP), an alternative course progression for MIME students and other Engineering majors, as well as another interdisciplinary capstone program within the University’s College of Engineering: the Civil and Architectural Engineering (CE & ARE) program. This paper presents the results of adding a new TWE to the cohort, distributing their efforts between multiple sections of MCP, and what training was required to normalize the scores between all three evaluators. Insights into similarities and differences between the capstone programs in relation to the grading procedures are discussed.

Authors:

Sarah Oman, Oregon State University

John Parmigiani, Oregon State University

Joseph Piacenza, Oregon State University

Judy Liu, Oregon State University

Keywords:
Writing, grading , multidisciplinary, Transdisciplinary
Abstract:

Reflective team exercises are used on the last day of Capstone 1, and the first day of Capstone 2, to focus students on the challenges ahead, bridge the gap between the semesters, and get students off to a quick and directed start in Capstone 2. The last day exercise is a simple reflection focused on the upcoming “Day 1” of Capstone 2. The first day exercise uses a Strength – Weakness – Opportunity – Threat analysis to align the student teams and focus them on the new term. The exercises are described. Outcomes from 30 teams over two years are examined. The results provide insight into what the students worry about, how they perceive their teams’ strengths and weaknesses, and how the students spend the time between terms. Some correlations between the exercise results and ultimate team performance are found.

Authors:

Hugh L. McManus, Northeastern University

B. Kris Jaeger-Helton, Northeastern University

Keywords:
reflective exercise, two-term sequence, teamwork, success factors
Abstract:

This paper outlines the integration of an Agile Project Management approach in a capstone engineering design course at Washington State University (WSU). The mechanical/materials engineering capstone course at WSU emphasizes interaction with industry customers and a drive for completion as teams of 4-6 students complete a semester-long project for various nonprofits and industry sponsors. Historically, the course has been highly unstructured, giving students space to manage their own time. While this approach is helpful for developing agency among students, many teams end up scrambling at the end after falling behind schedule early on. By teaching students the Agile Scrum framework, instructors provide students with a tool that can be used to map out their project, prioritize tasks, and manage project deliverables with the drumbeat of two- week sprints. This approach is applied to a single-semester mechanical and materials engineering senior design course at WSU, but is applicable for other disciplines and course layouts.

Authors:

Emily A. Larsen, Washington State University

Darin Aaby, Washington State University

Charles Pezeshki, Washington State University

 

Keywords:
agile, scrum , mechanical, Industry
Abstract:

The engineering profession expects all students and new hires entering the workforce to have a basic understanding of and exposure to technical standards. A consensus exists among the business world that such education is necessary. Yet, engineering departments and academic institutions nationwide do not provide the quantity and quality of technical standards education demanded of engineers in the United States of America. Fortunately, the development of free, open-source, customizable modules is gaining popularity as a much-needed holistic solution to this problem. The call to action is here. The time to respond is now.

Authors:

Amy C. Kurr, University of Tennessee - Knoxville

Jimmy A. Landmesser, Jr., Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Keywords:
technical standards, undergraduate education, customizable modules
Abstract:

In a Multidisciplinary Capstone course, faculty have been integrating the entrepreneurial mindset into the programs learning objectives. The capstone course focuses on real-world industry sponsored projects that students work on over a two-semester sequence. This paper describes the capstone course as well as the entrepreneurial mindset learning objectives that have been developed and incorporated into the course. These learning objectives are presented as well as their alignment to the ABET Criterion 3 (1-7). Curriculum changes and activities to align with the new learning objectives are presented as well as lessons learned from the faculty. This is the first step in a larger study that will look at student and sponsor perceptions of the entrepreneurial mindset learning objectives and ABET criteria.

Authors:

Krista M. Kecskemety, The Ohio State University

Bob Rhoads, The Ohio State University

Tyler Stump, The Ohio State University

Keywords:
multidisciplinary, ABET, entrepreneurial mindset
Abstract:

At the beginning of the two-semester capstone sequence in Northeastern University’s College of Engineering, students receive a course overview outlining the general objectives of Capstone and the associated deliverables. They learn that teams will be formed and projects will be assigned following project introductions and a bidding process. Two cohorts of the same Capstone program were asked during their first day of Capstone to outline (1) Their concerns and questions, and (2) what they were excited about and/or looking forward to in the capstone experience. After reviewing the responses from the first group in summer [Cohort 1], capstone coordinators noted relatively short-sighted attention to the mechanics of project assignment and team formation as primary concerns. The coordinators adjusted the introduction for the next group of students in the fall [Cohort 2] to provide additional transparency to the team creation and project allocation process. Thematic analysis for the same questions yielded richer and deeper areas of focus for the students in Cohort 2 who were more settled with the early-capstone logistics. While there were several common topics across both cohorts related to concerns about budget, resources, guidance from advisors and final deliverables, the percentage profiles were markedly different. The approach with Cohort 2, which clarified some of the predictable housekeeping questions up front, resulted in a clearer sense of students’ longer-view concerns and questions. These included taking initiative, managing workload and effort, staying on track and recovering from failed approaches, as well as requests to identify pitfalls to avoid and success factors to model. This revised approach (1) gave coordinators immediate feedback to address with the class at hand and (2) provided incentive to adjust the introductory approach for future classes. Further, the ability to neutralize students’ initial apprehensions allowed for deeper analyses of their questions, and brought to light additional areas that could be clarified pre- emptively in future orientations. It also fostered a shift from a pattern of short-term focus to longer-term thinking in the capstone lens and lead to a more grounded capstone launch. This paper concentrates on the concerns of the students, while the positive anticipation aspects will be covered at a later date.

Authors:

B. Kris Jaeger-Helton, Northeastern University

Hugh L. McManus, Northeastern University

Keywords:
orientation, concerns, selection, team, assignment
Abstract:

The senior design capstone course is an essential part of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), offering students a chance to apply their accumulated knowledge to practical, real-world projects. However, finding a continuous stream of unique public works projects in various CEE sectors such as transportation, water resources, geotechnical engineering, construction, environmental engineering, and structural engineering to satisfy the needs of an expanding undergraduate program presents a significant challenge. This paper presents a novel approach to enhancing the senior design capstone course for CEE students, highlighting a successful, long-standing partnership with the UW-Madison UniverCity Year program and its associated communities. Central to this partnership is the enduring legacy of “The Wisconsin Idea.”

Authors:

Derek Hungness, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jan Kucher, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Gavin Luter, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Greg Harrington, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Keywords:
community partnerships, Industry Collaboration
Abstract:

This project explores the collaborative skills occurring within engineering education and practice. While technical competence is crucial, collaborative skills are paramount in engineering enterprises, and current evidence suggests working in teams does not ensure the development of effective collaboration behaviors among engineers. Yet, lifelong learning requires engineers to navigate complex interactions within diverse design teams, emphasizing the need for a nuanced understanding of collaboration. To address this gap, our study aims to identify the least-performed effective collaboration behaviors in engineering capstone teams and explore the reasons behind this occurrence. This investigation is part of a larger study that employs the Reasoned Action Approach1 where we seek to uncover individual beliefs and factors influencing the performance of target behaviors. These insights serve as tools for engineers, students, educators, and managers to assess and enhance collaboration skills, fostering effective teamwork in engineering settings. Ultimately, this overarching goal of advancing professional formation in engineering distills into the key question: Why do individuals exhibit variations in performing effective collaboration behaviors in engineering teams?

Authors:

Mitchell Gerhardt, Virginia Tech

Nicole Pitterson Virginia Tech

Emily Dringenberg, The Ohio State University

Benjamin Ahn, The Ohio State University

Keywords:
collaborative behaviors, Design process, student conceptions, rerasoned action approach
Abstract:

Electronic portfolios (ePortfolios) provide a way for capstone students to reflect upon and visually demonstrate their academic and professional experiences as they prepare to transition to engineering workplaces. This project builds upon work from a previous project integrating ePortfolios across multiple levels of undergraduate classes within the Mechanical Engineering curriculum at New Mexico Tech. While the initial project confirmed that integration of ePortfolios within the undergraduate Mechanical Engineering curriculum at New Mexico Tech was of value, this project integrates lessons learned and more thoroughly develops ePortfolio instruction, particularly for students taking capstone design courses.

Authors:

Julie Dyke Ford, New Mexico Tech

Destiny Crawford, New Mexico Tech

 

Keywords:
Electronic portfolios, self reflection, workplace preparedness
How Would a Chatbot Fare in Capstone? (Paper, Poster)
Abstract:

The availability of online file repositories, solution manuals, and homework “help” has forced professors to think carefully about the assignments they give and how they assess their students’ work. Now with the widespread availability of online chatbots and image generators, the problem is magnified. Capstone instructors, whose students are always working on new problems that do not come from textbooks, have not needed to worry about copies of tests and homework answer keys available online, but could an online AI be used to “cheat” in a capstone design course? This paper examines a sample design project, specifically focused on the act of problem definition and basic project management.

Authors:

Elizabeth A. DeBartolo, Rochester Institute of Technology

Keywords:
academic honesty, AI, ChatGPT, assessment
Abstract:

Lack of diverse representation in engineering professions can lead to suboptimal engineering solutions and gender-biased design. Despite national efforts to recruit female students to engineering programs women remain underrepresented and post-graduation leave the profession at higher rates than their male counterparts. Universities can recruit and retain women engineers by adapting curriculum and providing support systems to promote the success of a diverse student body as they enter the workforce. University of Detroit Mercy has recently leveraged a human-centered capstone program along with funds from a Clare Boothe Luce grant to expand a curriculum known to attract women to the mechanical engineering department. This paper outlines Detroit Mercy’s expansion of the capstone program and evidence of resulting opportunities for women in leadership, implementation of a multidisciplinary minor in biomedical design and increased participation of undergraduate and graduate students in research.

Authors:

Megan O. Conrad, University of Detroit Mercy

Darrell Kleinke, University of Detroit Mercy

Molly McClelland, University of Detroit Mercy

Keywords:
multidisciplinary, human-centered design , gender equity