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An Innovative Senior Capstone Design Course Integrating External Internships, In Class Meetings, And Outcome Assessment

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

CE Capstone: Innovations in Learning & Assessment

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.159.1 - 15.159.19



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Paper Authors

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Ryan Fries Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

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Brad Cross Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

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Susan Morgan Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

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

An Innovative Senior Capstone Design Course Integrating External Internships, In-Class Meetings, and Outcome Assessment Abstract

Responding to an increasing need for civil engineering students to obtain real-world experience, a senior design course for civil engineers was modified to integrate external internships. Students attend class twice a week and work outside the classroom in an appropriate civil engineering design office supervised by licensed Professional Engineers once a week.

Students are assigned in groups of up to three to local engineering firms or agencies in their discipline of choice (geotechnical, structural, transportation, or environmental engineering). The firms work with faculty to identify a project that the students can work on side-by-side with professionals. The students work in the company a minimum of three hours per week. They are required to continue their work during the rest of the week, both in-class with the supervision of a faculty member (who is also a licensed Professional Engineer) and in group meetings on their own time. Four presentations are integrated throughout the course and attended by faculty in the appropriate discipline. In addition, bi- the progress of the students and give advice regarding the project.

Outcome assessment assignments are incorporated in the class and quantitative rubrics (using two or three performance indicators, depending on the outcome) are evaluated by faculty at appropriate points in the course. Other forms of feedback include student and employer surveys at the end of the experience.

The internships have been a great success at almost no expense to the university. Students have been absorbing concepts quickly and the placement companies have enjoyed the interaction with the students. This paper will describe in detail the course objectives, course outline, placement strategies, assessment procedures, and the successes and failures of the method with local engineering firms and agencies of varying size.


Engineering capstone courses are excellent tools for preparing traditionally-educated engineers for the real world of design. As a result, a plethora of schools use such courses and knowledge in the area is vast. For example, as of 1997 there were approximately 100 papers related to engineering design courses 1 and at the time of this writing, at least 150 papers were published.

Several of these previous studies focus on student design projects involving real-world projects. Some argue that using real-world projects provides students exposure to working with challenging clients and imperfect design information 2. Students need this experience with real world problems to become effective civil engineers 3.

This paper presents a synopsis of previous studies on engineering design courses in the next section, particularly those including industry collaboration. Next, the case study methodology is Civil Engineering Body of


Fries, R., & Cross, B., & Morgan, S. (2010, June), An Innovative Senior Capstone Design Course Integrating External Internships, In Class Meetings, And Outcome Assessment Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15981

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