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Aligning Design to ABET: Rubrics, Portfolios, and Project Managers

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session


Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.148.1 - 24.148.25



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Paper Authors


Alan Cheville Bucknell University

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Alan Cheville studied optoelectronics and ultrafast optics at Rice University, followed by fourteen years as a faculty member at Oklahoma State University working on terahertz frequencies and engineering education. While at Oklahoma State he developed courses in photonics and engineering design. After serving for two and a half years as a program director in engineering education at the National Science Foundation, he took a chair position in electrical engineering at Bucknell University. He is currently interested in engineering design education, engineering education policy, and the philosophy of engineering education.

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Michael S. Thompson Bucknell University Orcid 16x16

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Prof. Thompson is an assistant professor in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, PA. While his teaching responsibilities typically include digital design, computer-related electives, and senior design, his focus in the classroom is to ignite passion in his students for engineering and design through his own enthusiasm, open-ended student-selected projects, and connecting engineering to the world around them. His research interests are primarily experimental wireless networking and the application of mobile computing. He holds three degrees in computer engineering including a B.S. from North Carolina State University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech.

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Aligning Design to ABET: Rubrics, Portfolios, and Project ManagersThis paper discusses on-going modifications to a two-semester capstone design sequence inelectrical and computer engineering intended to better utilize the artifacts produced by the courseto meaningfully assess ABET outcomes. Two modifications are reported in this work.The first modification was to implement a more structured learning experience with well-defineddesign milestones that corresponded to our program’s conception of the design process. Thecapstone course adopted a “spiral” framework of design based on the Vygotsky cycle which isdrawn from socio-constructivist theories of learning. In this framework a cyclical process ofhow both learners and their interpretation of knowledge are transformed by the learning processis superimposed on the standard design cycle given in most engineering design textbooks. Thepractical implementation of this framework was supported by developing milestones teams hadto successfully complete before they could move to the next phase of design. Milestones werealso aligned with specific ABET outcomes and student learning was assessed on each milestoneusing scoring rubrics. The paper discusses the development of the rubrics for specific aspects ofdesign, modifications of the rubrics based on student performance, and how scores from therubrics were used to modify the content of the capstone course sequence.The second modification was to replace individual design logs with a team archive thatdocumented how the team’s conception of design evolved over the capstone experience. Aswith the selection of milestones, the format of the team archive was designed to assess specificABET (a)-(k) learning outcomes. To support a project archive that longitudinally capturedevolution of each team’s design on a weekly basis, team sizes were increased from 4-5 studentsto 6-7 students in order to add two new roles to the team: a project manager and lead engineer.The project manager served as the liaison with the client, managed the team’s resources, andmaintained the project archive. The project manager also took a small technical role on the team.The lead engineer was responsible for overall system architecture and integration. These roleswere supported by developing a separate grading system for these two roles; the impact of theseroles on supporting the spiral conception of design is discussed. The paper discusses the impactof these modifications on student learning and the impact the changes had on providingactionable assessment for the ABET accreditation process. Documentation of team roles, theformat of the archive, and scoring rubrics are provided as an appendix for adaptation by otherdesign instructors.

Cheville, A., & Thompson, M. S. (2014, June), Aligning Design to ABET: Rubrics, Portfolios, and Project Managers Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20039

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