June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Design in Engineering Education
14.12.1 - 14.12.9
A Common Standard for All: Using a Business-Oriented Approach to Capstone Design
ABET EAC Criterion 5 states that “[s]tudents must be prepared for engineering practice through a curriculum culminating in a major design experience based on the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier course work and incorporating appropriate engineering standards and multiple realistic constraints.” However, the definition of what constitutes an “appropriate engineering standard” has been subjected to various interpretations, both wide and narrow. Arguments have been made that all capstone design projects must include engineering standards from the appropriate professional society: IEEE Standards for electrical and computer engineers, ASME Standards for mechanical engineers, and so on. However, members of the educational community have objected to this approach based on the potentially exorbitant costs involved and that it serves as a constraint to project selection, especially when given the opportunity to work on industry-sponsored projects. Additional objections are raised over the narrow scope of such a position, as working engineers encounter a wide variety of standards beyond those set by professional societies.
There is a definite need for standards education, and for all engineering students to experience conforming to a standard as part of a design process – but it does not necessarily need to be a design standard. It is our contention that internal project management standards developed in the business community for use with engineering projects constitute “appropriate engineering standards.” This paper presents the approach undertaken by the Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science (ECCS) Department at Ohio Northern University that provides a common foundation to the application of standards in team-based capstone design.
The College of Engineering at Ohio Northern University has had a working relationship with Marathon Petroleum Company for many years, with Marathon Petroleum often sponsoring a couple of projects in the ECCS Department each year. Part of this collaborative effort is manifested by the Engineer-in-Residence (EiR) Program1 that was initiated in 2001. This program provides a co-op experience on campus through the establishment of a professional workspace located within the engineering building at Ohio Northern University, including an office for the EiR and four cubicles for use by engineering students that are employed as co-ops by Marathon Petroleum. The EiR serves as the on-site mentor and supervisor for these co-op students who typically work 15 hours per week in the EiR office. Having the co-op experience on campus allows the students in this program to remain full-time students, which allows them to graduate with their entering cohort. As part of the agreement between Marathon Petroleum and Ohio Northern, the EiR is available for use as a professional resource by the departments within the College of Engineering. This allows instructors the opportunity to have a practicing professional engineer discuss work-related issues and processes in the classroom.
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