June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Design in Engineering Education
13.275.1 - 13.275.9
Capstone Design Courses: Content Recognition Introduction:
The Capstone Design course at The University of South Florida brings realistic design experiences into the academic environment. The course is completed in each of the two 15 week semesters. The students do all of the design phases: define the project, conceptual design, embodiment design and detail design, plus other experiences, such as report writing, making drawings, and presentation skills. In addition, the students read and discuss two engineering ethics case studies, are instructed in Pro-Engineer, and have lectures on several pertinent topics, such as patents and licensing, entrepreneurship, professionalism, and safety. The course instructors give some lectures, and guest speakers give others.
The content of Capstone Design courses can be categorized into the “Design Content,” “Other Activities and Lectures,” and “Life After Capstone.” It should be made clear that there are many different approaches to take when a professor teaches a Capstone course or develops the Capstone experience for his/her students. These different approaches will depend upon the education and experience of the instructors, and the resources of the academic department. This paper is based on our experiences at The University of South Florida.
The Capstone Design course works with the Center for Rehabilitation Engineering and Technology. The Center, which is partially funded by the State of Florida, identifies possible project ideas that have been collected throughout the State. These projects improve the quality of life and/or the work life of disabled people who need assistance, or who have dreams that they have not realized. Student teams may also develop their own project ideas. The Center for Rehabilitation Engineering and Technology was described in detail at the First Conference on Capstone Design.1
During the 2006-07 academic year there were 21 student teams that served about 100-120 students per year; two sections each in the fall and spring semesters. The total cost for their prototypes, including parts, machining, and materials, was approximately $10,000. During the 2007-08 academic year, there were 22 projects; their total cost will be known after the semester is completed. The monetary support from the Center for Rehabilitation Engineering and Technology allows the construction of these student prototypes, and the wrap-up of the student design experience. The 2006-2007 projects were described at the 2007 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition.2
Some of the designs and student experiences continue beyond graduation. The University Patent Office handles the intellectual property of the Capstone teams. Several of the projects have been patented over the years. The Center has recently formed a company to commercialize these products. Currently three projects, which have received patents, are being commercialized, and some of the students have received their first royalty checks. This is a great postscript to an exciting Capstone Design experience. Another after graduation experience occurred when a student brought a company project back for the Capstone class to consider.
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