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Case Study: A College-Wide Engineering Capstone Experience at the University of Tennessee

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Community Engagement Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

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Paper Authors


Jennifer Q Retherford University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Dr. Retherford is an alumna of the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and received her graduate degrees from Vanderbilt University. She currently teaches a variety of courses supporting the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee. Among many structural engineering courses, Dr. Retherford manages the Senior Design Project course for all undergraduate seniors.

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J. A. M. Boulet University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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J. A. M. (Toby) Boulet has been on the faculty of the University of Tennessee since 1985. He now divides his time equally between teaching and serving as Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs in the Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering department. He has been a member of ASEE since 2004.

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Chris Wetteland University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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The University of Tennessee at Knoxville has developed a pilot study for a college of engineering multi-disciplinary capstone experience, engaging three dedicated college departments to address a design opportunity presented by a local non-profit organization. The College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee was approached by the Friends of the Smokies (Friends) requesting the development of an innovative solution to reduce vandalism of donation boxes located throughout the nearby national park. While the Friends are capable of upgrading and modifying the small structures, the team recognized an opportunity to engage in outreach and solicited assistance from the university with the intention of identifying innovative and unique design concepts to improve the design of the structures. Both the Friends and the Dean of the Tickle College of Engineering recognized the opportunity to immerse students in the design process and a multi-disciplinary team was selected not only to address the community partner needs, but also to pilot a college-wide capstone experience. Management of the project with this new academic experience provides an opportunity to research and share best practices related to such an opportunity. The design project has engaged students and faculty from materials science, mechanical engineering, and civil engineering through an entire academic year experience. While the student design team is challenged with developing a final product that integrates all aspects of their engineering disciplines, the faculty team is also charged with ensuring the students gain a valuable academic experience within this project. To accomplish these objectives, the faculty team has a shared management approach and seeks to identify means and methods to replicate the successful experience in future semesters. The following paper contains a summary of the project shared by the local partner, a brief literature review of similar efforts towards college-wide capstone programs, discussion of the course management approach identified by the faculty, challenges experienced, and a summary of lessons learned.

Retherford, J. Q., & Boulet, J. A. M., & Wetteland, C. (2017, June), Case Study: A College-Wide Engineering Capstone Experience at the University of Tennessee Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28017

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