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A Student Bidding Process Applied To Industrially Sponsored Senior Capstone Design Projects

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Capstone Design II

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.115.1 - 14.115.18



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Paper Authors

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Robert Todd Brigham Young University

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Christopher Mattson Brigham Young University

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Gregg Warnick Brigham Young University


Ryan Dymock Brigham Young University

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Ryan Dymock is currently a senior studying Mechanical Engineering at Brigham Young University. He hopes to steer his career in the direction of robotics and automation, and so far has had 3 internships with different manufacturing companies. His extracurricular studies at BYU have included wind tunnel testing air foils for VTOL aircraft, building a Fatigue Tester and CAD simulation for components of the BYU formula car, being the TA for the Advanced Robotics class, as well as mentoring his 6th grade robotics team to 1st place in their district wide competition. He currently lives in Provo, Utah with his wife, Leah, and his 18 month old daughter Samantha. Samantha has been a good sport in dealing with both parents concurrently seeking degrees from BYU, both graduating in April of 2009.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Student Bidding Process Applied to Industrially-Sponsored Senior Capstone Design Projects


Since ABET 2000, numerous engineering programs have initiated industrially-sponsored Senior Capstone courses designed to better prepare students for the practice of engineering. Brigham Young University initiated an industrially sponsored Capstone program in 1990. Since 1990, BYU student teams have completed more than 500 of these projects.

Project teams in Capstone courses have been formed using a variety of methods. At BYU, student test results from the Herrmann Brain Dominance, FIRO B, and other tests have been used to form teams. The intent has been to create diversity of thinking among team members to provide a better learning experience for the students and better project results than would be obtained if diversity in team formation was not sought. After team formation, each team has been assigned an industrially- sponsored project.

Beginning in 2008, teams were formed in a way similar to previous semesters and then invited to take part in a 'bidding' process for the 27 industrially sponsored projects. This bidding process was initiated as an experiment in an effort to foster increased ownership for project success among team members and as an initial exercise to foster familiarity between team members and to start working together immediately.

This paper presents preliminary results of this new approach, including survey results from Capstone students who were involved in the bidding process and those from alumni currently pursuing graduate degrees at Brigham Young University who in previous years had their Capstone projects assigned without being involved in bidding. Comparisons are drawn between the two groups. Advantages and disadvantages are noted and recommendations are given.


Capstone courses have become a widespread culminating experience in undergraduate engineering programs across the United States. The achievement of capstone course outcomes is often based on the premise that students most effectively learn design by active engagement in and application of previous learning to 'real open-ended', design problems. These courses have become largely universal as a result of engineering programs seeking to better meet the needs of industry and accreditation requirements specified with the advent of ABET 20001,2.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently cited much of the motivation for developing capstone courses in engineering programs. "The National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Engineering, and others have been warning for at least two decades that American engineering education is too theoretical and not hands-on enough," and a "new Carnegie report...reinforces those warnings.” The report indicates "that a widespread emphasis on theory over practice...discourages many potential students while leaving graduates with too little exposure to real-world problems and ethical dilemmas." While "millions of dollars" have been offered "through a coalition of universities to try to break up old styles of teaching," many schools "still

Todd, R., & Mattson, C., & Warnick, G., & Dymock, R. (2009, June), A Student Bidding Process Applied To Industrially Sponsored Senior Capstone Design Projects Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5760

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