Asee peer logo

Capstone Design For Education And Industry The Perspective Of Industry Sponsors And Graduates

Download Paper |


1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.95.1 - 1.95.6



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Richard Wall

author page

Kathy Belknap

Download Paper |

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

Session 1532

Capstone Design for Education and Industry - The Perspective of Industry Sponsors and Graduates

Richard Wall , Kathy Belknap ASAE/University of Idaho


The ABET guidelines state “Engineering design is the process of devising a system, component, or process to meet desired needs. It is a decision-making process (often iterative), in which the basic sciences, mathematics and engineering sciences are applied to convert resources to meet a stated objective.”[1] Guidelines for electrical engineering programs specify the number of credits of engineering topics where design integrates with engineering science throughout engineering courses. The electrical engineering section of the ABET Guidelines further encourages “a significant design experience” in the senior year[1].

The University of Idaho requires a two-semester senior level course sequence focusing entirely on design issues. Students develop skills in open-ended problem solving, identifying solution options, and maximizing resources under constraints. They are repeatedly exposed to the “design process” and are given numerous opportunities to develop written and oral communication skills. The projects require an element of original design and the demonstration of a working model, culminating in written and oral presentations of their design approach and results. Although no new engineering science concepts are formally presented in the senior design classes, we expect that the students not limit their design to knowledge acquired from previous courses. Students thus have an opportunity to learn how to gain new knowledge outside the classroom.

This senior design sequence has been utilized for several years. Author, R. Wall, describes the experience of sponsoring senior design projects from an industry perspective from 1984 through 1988 [2] before joining the University of Idaho faculty. Although the students are encouraged to complete course and instructor evaluations at the conclusion of each course, we recognize that many students lack the industrial experience to make quality assessments of the course value or to assess the ultimate contribution the senior design experience will make to their careers. We recently took the opportunity to further examine the value of industry sponsored senior design projects and look for suggestions to improve the course by means of a survey of the graduates and industries involved over the past five years. We acknowledge that this experience is not possible without industries who value the opportunity to contribute to higher education by direct involvement.


The capstone design course focuses on team building and cooperation. Students are introduced to the Demming philosophy. This approach contrasts capstone design experiences offered at other universities who use team competitions to motivate serious design effort[3,4]. From 18 years of industrial experience, these authors conclude that competition is defined and carried out by those who chart the corporate mission and define the product. Design is initiated when engineering moves the product definition to a set of functional specifications.

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Wall, R., & Belknap, K. (1996, June), Capstone Design For Education And Industry The Perspective Of Industry Sponsors And Graduates Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5906

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: © 1996 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