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A Methodology and Experience of Facilitating International Capstone Projects for Multidisciplinary Fields: Costa Rica Internet of Things (IoT) Case Study

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Cooperative and Project-based Global Learning

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Karim Altaii James Madison University

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Dr. Altaii holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, and received his doctorate from The City University of New York. He is a registered Professional Engineer. He holds five patents in solar energy applications and in an irrigation system. He is the director of the JMU international summer program in Costa Rica. He is the Director of the Advanced Thermal-Fluids laboratory at James Madison University. His primary interests are in renewable energy applications, fluid-thermal sciences, and international education.

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Shannon N. Conley James Madison University

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Shannon N. Conley is an assistant professor in the Bachelors Program in Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) at James Madison University. She holds a PhD in Political Science from Arizona State University, and her research and teaching focus on social, policy, and ethical issues related to emerging science and technology. Additionally, her previous and current work focuses on the development and implementation of tools and approaches for socio-technical integration across disciplines. Conley also conducts research in pedagogy and responsible innovation, participates in the scholarly community of Studies of Experience and Expertise (SEE), is a member of the Science and Democracy Network, and was elected president of the Communities of Integration Network in 2016.

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Samy El-Tawab James Madison University

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Dr. Samy El-Tawab received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA in 2012. Dr. El-Tawab is currently an Assistant Professor at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, USA. His main research interests include working on the issues surrounding Intelligent Transportation, (VANET) Vehicular Ad-Hoc Networks, Sensor Networks, Multimedia Communication, Cloud Networks, Voice-over-IP and Computer Security. Dr. El-Tawab introduced a system named “FRIEND”: A Cyber-Physical System for Traffic Flow Related Information aggrEgatioN and Dissemination. In 2009, he was awarded a prize for Excellence in Scholarship at The College of William and Mary’s 8th Annual Graduate Research Symposium. He has more than 20 publications including journal/conference papers, book chapters, and posters. He also serves as a reviewer in several journals and conferences.

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This paper explores the opportunities, challenges, and pedagogy of a real-world, hands-on, international capstone project. We present a case study in which three faculty members from diverse disciplines, including engineering, computer science, and political science, guided a team of students from the Bachelors in ISAT (Integrated Science and Technology) program at James Madison University for a two-year capstone experience spanning the students’ junior and senior years. The paper describes the overarching pedagogy and goals of the two-year ISAT capstone experience and describes how the ISAT “Holistic Problem Solving Habits of Mind” are integral to our teaching and mentoring approach in applied projects. The Habits of Mind are structured to facilitate student reflection on the technical, social, and ethical contexts of their work. We explain how the Habits of Mind structured our pedagogy from the problem identification phase through project completion. We describe the phases of the team’s engagement with stakeholders at Punta Leona Hotel and Club Beach Resort, including: early problem identification regarding energy conservation and saving concerns; project development, in which students developed a solution centered around remote, app-based control of large energy consuming devices (e.g., air conditioning units) using Internet of Things (IoT); execution and implementation of the project over a three week period during a study abroad trip in Costa Rica; and remote follow up with stakeholders after project installation. One of the goals of the experience is for students to understand project management and interdisciplinary collaboration in a hands-on way, and to understand that stakeholder engagement is an integral part of the process. The goals, methodology, organizational structure, logistics, lessons learned, and the instructors’ observations of the experience are also described in the paper.

Altaii, K., & Conley, S. N., & El-Tawab, S. (2018, June), A Methodology and Experience of Facilitating International Capstone Projects for Multidisciplinary Fields: Costa Rica Internet of Things (IoT) Case Study Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29695

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