San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
Engineering Management, Systems Engineering, and Industrial Engineering
25.114.1 - 25.114.11
A SYSTEMS ENGINEERING CAPSTONE COURSE THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE Paper Abstract By ___ Affiliation ___This abstract describes how a Capstone Course on the area of Systems Engineering andEngineering Management resulted in a very positive and productive learning experience forthe students enrolled in a particular Engineering baccalaureate program. Research shows thatcapstone, practical courses are linked to high levels of student engagement resulting inimproved levels of persistence and learning, and this particular University initiative provedthose findings to be right.The University (Name) offers the Industrial and Systems Engineering program since the mid1970s. The two major components of the program are majors in industrial engineering and insystems engineering. 10 years ago, program evaluations and student outcomes revealed anarea or opportunity on the Systems Engineering track.Faculty worked on an improvement project based on two major areas: the improvement of the5-7 courses related with the major (with actions such as better connection among the coursesand the addition of relevant literature and learning experiences) and the addition of a capstonecourse with a very practical approach and in many ways, led by the students.The capstone course, named Systems Engineering Internship, is carried out in the SeniorYear, one semester before graduation. Basically, the students enrolled in the course formteams of 4-6 people and work as consultants on a real problem in a non-industrialorganization (hospitals, government offices, educational institutions, ngos, insurancecompanies and the like). The students work as a formal consulting team with philosophy,roles and activities well defined. A faculty member serves as advisor-mentor for the team.The team finds an organization with a particular problem area that can be solved using SEapproach. Then they prepare a project proposal that serves as a contract and as a guide for theentire project. A sponsor within the client organization is named. Then the team defines itsown methodology and work in the problem for 17 weeks, about 16 hours a week per person,and through very well defined stages: proposal, diagnosis, redesign and implementation.Every other week the team has a meeting with the faculty advisor to review progress and planthe week ahead. The team also makes four presentations before an academic committee (atweeks 1, 8, 13 and in the last one, 17) and at least another two before the client.Evaluation of the effectiveness and student outcomes as results of this practice, are verypromising. About 70% of the program graduating students refer it as “my most academicallyrewarding and enriching experience”; client evaluations places the quality, professionalismand contribution of the students at the same o better level than any other institution; studentshave won several prizes as part of their work.While still in improvement, this practice is now one of the strengths of the programs andfaculty work hard to keep it, knowing its very positive impact on student learning.
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