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A Coupled Course Design to Strengthen Multidisciplinary Engineering Capstone Design Projects

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Capstone Courses

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Tyler Susko University of California, Santa Barbara

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Tyler Susko is a Lecturer PSOE at the University of California Santa Barbara in the department of mechanical engineering where he is responsible for the mechanical engineering design program. Prior to this appointment, he completed his PhD from MIT in mechanical engineering where his research focused on the development of a novel robotic system for the treatment of neurological injuries affecting movement, specifically gait. He has previously held positions as a design engineer at Ingersoll Rand and an adjunct professor at Augusta State University.

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Ilan Ben-Yaacov University of California, Santa Barbara

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Tanya Das University of California, Santa Barbara

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Lubella Lenaburg University of California, Santa Barbara


Francesco Bullo University of California, Santa Barbara Orcid 16x16

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Francesco Bullo is a Professor with the
Mechanical Engineering Department and the Center for Control, Dynamical
Systems and Computation at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He
was previously associated with the University of Padova, the California
Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
His main research interests are network systems and distributed control
with application to robotic coordination, power grids and social networks.

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Background Multidisciplinary Capstone Design courses are becoming a focus of engineering institutions as multidisciplinary skills have become a priority for accreditation and have shown promise for the development of young engineers. Most of the implementations are done using a stand-alone course or a dedicated section of a capstone course. Here we propose a Supplementary Multidisciplinary Capstone Course (SMCC) to be coupled to the departmental capstone courses to promote quick adoptions of multidisciplinary capstone projects.

Hypotheses The SMCC will solve the problem of scheduling by assigning a time once per week that all students are required to be in the same location. The SMCC model will retain all discipline specific learning objectives.

Methodology Two student surveys and one end-of-quarter grading rubric will be used to assess the hypotheses and to better understand the challenges involved in running multidisciplinary projects using the coupled course model.

Results The SMCC course structure resolves student meeting scheduling problems by mandating attendance and retains departmental rigor by having advisors directly assigned in the departmental capstone course. We found that highly motivated teams with defined projects thrive with this model but that industry-defined projects may require increased communication for all involved faculty and industry mentors.

Conclusion The SMCC structure is a reasonable approach for departments to quickly implement multidisciplinary projects into existing department-specific capstone programs.

Susko, T., & Ben-Yaacov, I., & Das, T., & Lenaburg, L., & Bullo, F. (2016, June), A Coupled Course Design to Strengthen Multidisciplinary Engineering Capstone Design Projects Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26300

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