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Capstone Design In The Earth Engineering Sciences: Case Study Of A 10 Year Interdisciplinary Program

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Capstone Design II

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.288.1 - 9.288.8

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Paper Authors

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Tom Davis

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Maximillian Peeters

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John Curtis

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Jennifer Miskimins

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

Session 2425

Capstone Design in the Earth Engineering Sciences: Case Study of a 10-Year Interdisciplinary Program Jennifer L. Miskimins, John B. Curtis, Thomas Davis, Maximillian Peeters Colorado School of Mines


The capstone design course entitled Multidisciplinary Petroleum Design has been in existence at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) for ten years. Since its inception in 1993, approximately 400 students have passed through the class. The class comprises students from three disciplines including the Petroleum Engineering (PE), Geology and Geological Engineering (GE), and Geophysical Engineering (GP) Departments. The course is unique since no other university in the United States offers this combination of disciplines in a senior design course. Even though the course is one of a kind for the disciplines it addresses, several of the difficulties encountered in the course are believed to be universal to capstone courses that address earth engineering topics.

Multidisciplinary Petroleum Design is taken over a period of 15 weeks in the final semester of the senior year. The course is required for PE undergraduate students. GE and GP undergraduate students are also required to take a senior capstone design course, but the Multidisciplinary Petroleum Design is one of three options for these two disciplines. In addition to undergraduate students, graduate students pursuing a Masters of Science, a Masters of Engineering, or a Professional Masters degree occasionally enroll in the course. These graduate students generally make up less than five percent of the class population.

The class has experienced success both from an accreditation standpoint and from an industry viewpoint. However, significant issues regarding development, assessment, and the most effective format still exist. Considerable hurdles are still present including the deficiency of team skills development prior to the course, “language” barriers between the different disciplines, and the inability to employ three-dimensional thought processes. This paper outlines the course development, format, assessment techniques, and difficulties encountered. This information may help other schools with similar earth engineering programs and aid in multidisciplinary course curricula development throughout engineering and science programs.

The Need for Capstone Courses

Capstone design courses are vital components of undergraduate engineering curricula. Under Criterion 4 of the General Criteria for Basic Level Programs, the Accreditation Board for

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Davis, T., & Peeters, M., & Curtis, J., & Miskimins, J. (2004, June), Capstone Design In The Earth Engineering Sciences: Case Study Of A 10 Year Interdisciplinary Program Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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