June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.158.1 - 15.158.11
AN INNOVATIVE METHOD PROVIDING AN ALTERNATIVE TO CAPSTONE COURSES USING EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
The Mechanical Engineering Technology program at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has implemented an alternative to the capstone project technique commonly used to satisfy the ABET Criterion 5 Curriculum section d. (Capstone or other integrating experiences must draw together diverse elements of the curriculum and develop student competence in focusing both technical and non-technical skills in solving problems.)1
A majority of Engineering Technology and Engineering Science programs rely upon a capstone project for providing an integrating experience which, by their very nature, are burdensome to the program resources and invariably suffer many disadvantages in their operation. Due to the size and complexity of capstone projects, the objective in the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program at RIT has been to provide an alternative to the current capstone technique that will provide a superior integrating experience through a series of connected experiential projects integrated into the core classes.
This paper will present a method, based on a scheme for experiential learning and innovation, that is a viable and robust alternative to the capstone technique which is easier to implement, will reduce the burden to the program, and provides a more complete integrating experience to the student while strengthening the MET program here at RIT.
The MET Program at RIT has met the ABET Criterion 5 requirement (Integrating Experience) by demonstrating a strong Co-op program supporting over 250 companies with every student requiring five quarters (50 weeks total) of industrial experience or equivalent for graduation. However, in the spirit of continuous improvement, an enhanced integrating experience is being sought. An overwhelming majority (8 out of 10) of Colleges have committed to a traditional- style Capstone Project in order to meet Criterion 5. In investigating the logistics and implementation scheme of a Capstone Project, it became apparent that a substantial burden is placed upon the faculty and staff with a projected increased workload of approximately 10% to 20%. Using a Product Design approach to problem solving a method was identified that ‘met the customer’s needs’. The MET program is labeling this as the ‘Backbone Concept’ where a series of highly-integrated projects are completed through the first to the senior year of a student’s experience that generates an increasing level of mastery to problem solving.
MET Definition of the ‘Integrating Experience’
ABET requires engineering technology programs to provide students with a capstone or other integrating experiences.
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