Asee peer logo

An Engineering Capstone Course From Multiple Perspectives

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE North Central Section conference


Morgantown, West Virginia

Publication Date

March 27, 2020

Start Date

March 27, 2020

End Date

May 20, 2020

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Deanna H Matthews Carnegie Mellon University

visit author page

Dr. Deanna H. Matthews is Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Affairs and Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Matthews oversees the undergraduate programs in EPP, including curriculum development and undergraduate student advising, and teaches courses on introductory engineering and public policy and interdisciplinary project-based courses. Her research has focused on environmental life cycle assessment, energy and climate, and engineering education and policy. She received her B.S.E. in Civil Engineering from Duke University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

visit author page

author page

Shuchen Cong Carnegie Mellon University

Download Paper |


The capstone course for the Engineering and Public Policy program at Carnegie Mellon University is a projects-based course where students work to structure and investigate a complex problem with both technical issues and policy implications. Students work in small interdisciplinary groups on sub-problems, with all work addressing the same larger problem. Recent topics have included agricultural sustainability, drone packaging delivery, and addressing lead exposure hazards. The course is supported by a Project Manager, a doctoral student in the EPP program, who themselves are in a course to practice project management skills. The course has been offered since 1970, and is celebrating 50 years and over 140 projects completed. We will discuss the course structure, and the experience of being a student in the course, and then a project manager. Students must adapt to a course with no regular assignments and numerical grades, prepare multiple drafts of presentations and reports, coordinate group efforts, and synchronize work product. Project managers are tasked with administrative responsibilities, coordinating group efforts, addressing personnel issues, and assuring that work is completed on time. Our goal is to show how capstone experience can be used as a learning tool for multiple students, and the paper will be presented by a past student and project manager for the course.

Matthews, D. H., & Cong, S. (2020, March), An Engineering Capstone Course From Multiple Perspectives Paper presented at 2020 ASEE North Central Section conference, Morgantown, West Virginia.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015