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Capstone Projects: Integrating Industry Through Student Leadership

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Instructional Strategies in AEC Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.304.1 - 14.304.8



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Paper Authors

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Brent Nuttall California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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James Mwangi California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Craig Baltimore California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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

Capstone Projects: Integrating Industry through Student Leadership


Capstone projects provide a unique opportunity for developing student leadership skills while integrating industry partners. While models for including industry partners in capstone projects have been discussed in prior literature, these models focus on faculty leadership in developing industry partnerships. This paper describes a capstone project model that encourages student, not faculty, leadership in engaging industry partners. Factors that influence successful project teaming of students and industry partners are identified and described using case study examples. The successes and difficulties of integrating industry in capstone project via student leadership are explored.


The Architectural Engineering (ARCE) program at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo requires all undergraduate students to complete a one quarter long senior capstone project. At the masters level students are required to complete a three quarter long capstone project prior to graduation. The benefits of industry participation in capstone projects has been well documented in prior literature.

This paper explores the student leadership model employed by the ARCE department used to team students with industry partners and identifies the benefits and drawbacks of this model. While many university programs encourage or require students to team with industry partners for their capstone project, a literature review indicates that the ARCE model for teaming students with industry has not been fully explored. The capstone project model described in this paper requires students, not faculty, to identify and develop their own project and encourages students to independently establish industry partners. This paper describes the unique aspects of the ARCE capstone projects model, identifies sources that assist students in successfully teaming with industry partners and uses case studies to demonstrate the benefits and limitations of this capstone project model.

Student Led Capstone Project Model

All ARCE undergraduate students are required to complete a capstone senior project. The ARCE program is somewhat unique since students complete three capstone design courses, one course in each of the major structural building materials (concrete, steel, wood and masonry) in addition to their capstone senior project. The performance of the capstone senior project occurs during one academic quarter (11 weeks). However, students are required to complete their project planning and get faculty approval prior to the start of the quarter. Students, not faculty, are responsible for identification and selection of the senior capstone project topics. Faculty

Nuttall, B., & Mwangi, J., & Baltimore, C. (2009, June), Capstone Projects: Integrating Industry Through Student Leadership Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5175

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