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Alternatives For Establishing Effective Capstone Design Teams

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Teaching Teaming Skills Through Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.156.1 - 7.156.9



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Paper Authors

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Marvin Dixon

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Session 2525

Alternatives for Establishing Effective Capstone Design Teams

Marvin W. Dixon, P.E., Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0921


Universities have the task of educating student engineers such that they can provide effective and responsible solutions, both as an individual and as a member of a team, to human-social- environmental needs. For years capstone design courses have been used in single engineering disciplines and at single universities to foster the understanding of the design process and teamwork. However, more is required to prepare engineering students to interact in teams with members of different backgrounds and to meet the challenges that they will encounter in their careers. Universities and industry must work together to identify and eliminate those barriers to effective teaming and communication. This paper addresses some of the issues associated with the modification of the aforementioned capstone design activity to include multi-disciplinary teams of engineering students addressing real industrial problems.

Since 1970 over 3000 mechanical engineering seniors have teamed with other mechanical engineering seniors in the capstone design class at Clemson University to address more than 200 industrial projects proffered by 76 different industries and agencies. Beginning in August 1994, mechanical engineering students in the capstone design class at Clemson have teamed with students from five universities and six disciplines to address multi-disciplinary projects. The various combinations of students that have been used in the design teams are: (1) teams with only Clemson mechanical engineering students, (2) teams with Clemson mechanical engineering students and students from other disciplines at Clemson, (3) teams with Clemson mechanical engineering students and mechanical engineering students from other universities, and finally (4) teams with Clemson mechanical engineering students and students of other disciplines from other universities. The students have come from the disciplines of chemical engineering, industrial engineering, materials engineering, mechanical engineering, mechanical engineering technology, and nuclear engineering.

Beginning with the school year 1994-95, students and faculty in chemical and mechanical engineering at Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, and students and faculty in mechanical engineering technology at South Carolina State University participated in collaborative design efforts addressing environmental restoration and waste management needs of the Westinghouse Savannah River Company, a DOE facility. Westinghouse has sponsored twenty-one of these projects. Starting in the school year 1996-97, mechanical and nuclear

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Dixon, M. (2002, June), Alternatives For Establishing Effective Capstone Design Teams Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10198

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