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A Unique Capstone Design Program

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.46.1 - 1.46.6



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Paper Authors

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Martin T. Hagan

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Carl D. Latino

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

Session 1626

A Unique Capstone Design Program

Carl D. Latino, Martin T. Hagan School of Electrical and Computer Engineering Oklahoma State University

Abstract This paper describes a capstone design program which has been developed at Oklahoma State University over the last ten years. The key components which have contributed to the success of the program and those which make the program unique are detailed.

Introduction We feel that the capstone design course is the most important course in our undergraduate curriculum. To understand why it is so important, consider the characteristics of typical undergraduate courses. Most courses, by necessity, focus on a narrow technical subject (e.g., electronics, electromagnetic, communications). Homework assignments generally ask specific technical questions, which have one solution, and which only take from a few minutes to an hour to solve. If students are not able to answer a problem in that length of time, they move on to other problems, since they usually have many problems to solve. They never get a chance to learn that some problems take weeks to solve, and they never develop the confidence that if they spend the time, they can solve the problem. Any term projects which are given in typical classes are usually very limited in scope, and each student generally works on their own.

This is not to say that these other courses are bad. By necessity, we often need to focus on specific technical subjects in most courses, in order to expose students to the rapidly expanding body of knowledge in our discipline. However, we need to have a course which ties everything together, and prepares students to solve real-world problems, which are ill-defined, interdisciplinary and open-ended.

In contrast with these typical courses, consider the capstone design course. Some of the things which students learn in this course, which they don’t learn to the same degree in any other course, are to: q Work independently. q Be creative and show initiative. q Cooperate with other members of a team to achieve a joint goal. q Communicate orally and in writing. q Organize large projects (learn to subdivide large problems and schedule subtasks). q Manage time. q Work within a budget. q Follow directions of a supervisor. q Locate/order parts. q Anticipate and adapt to unexpected difficulties. q Draw on knowledge obtained in many other courses, and adapt ideas to new situations. q Operate under time and performance pressures.

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Hagan, M. T., & Latino, C. D. (1996, June), A Unique Capstone Design Program Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6361

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