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Board # 116 : Collaborative Research: From School to Work: Understanding the Transition from Capstone Design to Industry

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/27700

Download Count

80

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Paper Authors

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Marie C Paretti Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-2202-6928

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Marie C. Paretti is a Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she co-directs the Virginia Tech Engineering Communications Center (VTECC). Her research focuses on communication in engineering design, interdisciplinary communication and collaboration, design education, and gender in engineering. She was awarded a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation to study expert teaching in capstone design courses, and is co-PI on numerous NSF grants exploring communication, design, and identity in engineering. Drawing on theories of situated learning and identity development, her work includes studies on the teaching and learning of communication, effective teaching practices in design education, the effects of differing design pedagogies on retention and motivation, the dynamics of cross-disciplinary collaboration in both academic and industry design environments, and gender and identity in engineering.

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Daria A Kotys-Schwartz University of Colorado Boulder

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Daria Kotys-Schwartz is the Director of the Idea Forge—a flexible, cross-disciplinary design space at University of Colorado Boulder. She is also the Design Center Colorado Director of Undergraduate Programs and a Senior Instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She received B.S. and M.S degrees in mechanical engineering 
from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. Kotys-Schwartz has focused her research in engineering student learning, retention, and student identity development within the context of engineering design. She is currently investigating the impact of cultural norms in an engineering classroom context, performing comparative studies between engineering education and professional design practices, examining holistic approaches to student retention, and exploring informal learning in engineering education.

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Susannah Howe Smith College

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Susannah Howe, Ph.D. is the Design Clinic Director in the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College, where she coordinates and teaches the capstone engineering design course. Her current research focuses on innovations in engineering design education, particularly at the capstone level. She is invested in building the capstone design community; she is a leader in the biannual Capstone Design Conferences and the Capstone Design Hub initiative. She is also involved with efforts to foster design learning in middle and high school students and to support entrepreneurship at primarily undergraduate institutions. Her background is in civil engineering with a focus on structural materials. She holds a B.S.E. degree from Princeton, and M.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell.

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Julie Dyke Ford Ph.D. New Mexico Tech

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Dr. Julie Ford is Professor of Technical Communication (housed in the Mechanical Engineering department) at New Mexico Tech where she coordinates and teaches in the junior/senior design clinic as well as teaches graduate-level engineering communication courses. Her research involves engineering communication, technical communication pedagogy, and knowledge transfer. She has published and presented widely including work in the Journal of Engineering Education, the Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, Technical Communication and Technical Communication Quarterly. Julie has a PhD in Rhetoric and Professional Communication from New Mexico State University, an MA in English with Technical Writing Emphasis from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a BA in English from Elon University.

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Benjamin David Lutz Virginia Tech

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Ben Lutz is a PhD student in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. His research interests include innovative pedagogies in engineering design, exploring student experiences within design settings, school-to-work transitions for new engineers, and efforts for inclusion and diversity within engineering. His current work explores how students describe their own learning in engineering design and how that learning supports transfer of learning from school into professional practice as well as exploring students' conceptions of diversity and its importance within engineering fields.

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Kevin Kochersberger Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Dr. Kochersberger has been an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech since 2011, teaching and leading new developments in the ME capstone senior design course as well as advising graduate student research in unmanned systems. He introduced an industry-sponsored model for capstone design with a favorable IP policy, established a student machine shop and introduced global humanitarian design projects as an option for students. Prior to Virginia Tech he was an Associate Professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and developed a multidisciplinary design course that included students from Business, Arts and Sciences as well as Engineering.

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Chris Gewirtz Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Graduate Student at Virginia Tech. The following ideas fall under the umbrella of my interests, humanitarian engineering, tolerance of uncertainty, engineering with community - instead of for industry, empathy, critical reflection, social justice, innovation.

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Laura Mae Rosenbauer Smith College

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Laura Rosenbauer is an engineering major and landscape studies minor at Smith College. She is a research assistant on the national and international capstone survey efforts and the development of CDHub 2.0. She is also assisting with a new research collaboration to study the transition from capstone design to work. She was a summer intern at the Urban Water Innovation Network, where she studied the thermodynamic and hydrologic properties of pavements. She is interested in a career in civil engineering.

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Sidharth Arunkumar New Mexico Tech

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Sidharth Arunkumar is pursuing his Masters in Mechanical Engineering at New Mexico Tech. His key area of interest is solid mechanics, and his research involves the study of conductive layers on wind turbine blades. He has worked on aircraft internal structures and Turbine casings for MNC clients as a Design Engineer, prior to his Masters at New Mexico Tech. He has also been involved as a research assistant, in the development of composite laminates for space applications. He is currently assisting research efforts to study students' transition from School to Work.

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Abstract

Collaborative Research: From School to Work: Understanding the Transition from Capstone Design to Industry

This paper describes a newly initiated study to explore students’ transitions from capstone design courses into engineering workplaces. Numerous studies show gaps between school and work with respect to engineering practice, including a recent American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME) study identifying weaknesses such as practical experience, project management, problem-solving, and design. Equally important, industry supervisors identified such gaps more frequently than early career engineers or department heads. Such misalignment poses a serious challenge to the professional formation of engineers within the academy.

Capstone courses are key opportunities to bridge these gaps. These courses seek to respond to industry, and faculty view them as vehicles to help students synthesize prior coursework and engage in real-world projects, often in ways that are resource intensive. Yet skill gaps persist, and few if any studies have examined the effectiveness of capstone courses in the context of the transition from school to work. Most research focuses on course structure, pedagogy, assessment, and end-of-course outcomes. To address this gap, we draw on Wenger's concept of communities of practice to study the experiences of individuals as they move from capstone courses into workplaces. Our project will explore how and to what extent capstone design courses prepare students to enter communities of practice in engineering workplaces, using 4 research questions:

RQ1: What skills, practices, and attitudes fostered through the capstone experience do individuals draw on or apply in their early work experiences?

RQ2: What differences do individuals identify between their capstone design and early work experiences, and how do those differences help or hinder their school-to-work transition?

RQ3: What specific pedagogical practices or aspects of the capstone course do students identify as helping or hindering their transition?

RQ4: In what ways do individuals perceive themselves to be underprepared in their early work experiences?

To address these questions, we are conducting a multi-case study of 4 sites: mechanical engineering programs at 3 separate universities and a general engineering program at a 4th university as a comparator. Data will include capstone exit interviews, followed by weekly surveys during the first 3 months of work to capture transitional experiences. Finally interviews will be conducted at 3, 6, and 12 month intervals to explore how students' capstone experiences inform their transition to work.

In this paper, we will describe the research frameworks and methods and provide results from our baseline data collection to explore students’ goals, interests, and expectations as they enter their capstone courses.

Paretti, M. C., & Kotys-Schwartz, D. A., & Howe, S., & Ford, J. D., & Lutz, B. D., & Kochersberger, K., & Gewirtz, C., & Rosenbauer, L. M., & Arunkumar, S. (2017, June), Board # 116 : Collaborative Research: From School to Work: Understanding the Transition from Capstone Design to Industry Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27700

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