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Curriculum Wide Project Based Learning By Refining Capstone Projects

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.339.1 - 15.339.12



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Paper Authors

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Barry Hyman University of Missouri


Jim Borgford-Parnell University of Washington Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jim Borgford-Parnell is Assistant Director and instructional consultant at the Center for Engineering Learning & Teaching at the University of Washington. He taught furniture design, research methods, and educational theory and pedagogy courses for 25 years; and was a professional furniture designer. Jim has been involved in instructional development for ten years, and currently does both research and instructional development in engineering education.

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Yuyi Lin University of Missouri Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Yuyi Lin received his MS degree from UCLA in 1984, Ph.D from UC Berkeley in 1989. He has been teaching senior capstone design at University of Missouri since 1990. He is an inventor and practicing design engineer with professional registration in the state of Missouri. He is a member of ASEE, ASME and SME, and a member of SAE Spring standard committee.

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

Curriculum-wide Project Based Learning by Refining Capstone Projects Abstract

Our goal in this project is to address the twin objectives of: (1) systematically increasing project- based learning experiences throughout the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) curriculum at the University of Missouri; and (2) increasing the prospects for industry adoption and commercialization of industry-sponsored and student-generated MAE capstone design projects. We are upgrading the outcomes of recent MAE capstone design projects by having needed refinements to those designs serve as the basis for project-based learning activities throughout the MAE curriculum. Thus, students in pre-capstone courses will gain insight to, and experience with, many aspects of real-world engineering projects. Simultaneously, capstone design projects will be advanced further towards industry implementation and commercialization.

The refinement activities in the pre-capstone courses are being planned and managed by students enrolled in a new senior/graduate course in management of design, working under the direction of the pre-capstone course instructors. This approach makes it feasible to systematically integrate project-based learning into engineering education without requiring major curriculum reforms or new faculty resources.

In this paper, we first describe the process we went through to select the capstone design refinement opportunities, identifying the pre-capstone courses most suitable as venues for the refinement activities, and enlisting instructors of those pre-capstone courses to adopt these refinements as the basis for project-based learning experiences for their students. Next, we describe the design management course and the activities of those students in facilitating the refinement activities. We then turn to our plans for synthesizing the refinements into updated versions of the capstone designs. Finally, we discuss the formative assessment process currently underway, including interviews with, and surveys of, faculty and students.


The project described in this paper addresses several recent calls for reforms to engineering education. Many “…have argued that engineering curricula should promote integrative, synthetic thought processes as well as reductive, analytical processes”.1 The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) adds to this call with its recommendation that “…the essence of engineering - the iterative process of designing, predicting performance, building, and testing- should be taught from the earliest stages of the curriculum, including the first year”.2 In addition, a workshop sponsored by the National Science Board concluded that “Since traditional curricula are so full, it is difficult to add traditional courses to the curriculum. Thus, it may be necessary instead to integrate experiences throughout the curriculum…. Experiential learning can …motivate student learning in the fundamentals(;) and can create opportunities to bring design and analysis together, rather than segregating design and analysis. There is also a need to create long-term experiences, such as projects that span years and make connections between different skills and applications. Students working on open-ended projects under expert

Hyman, B., & Borgford-Parnell, J., & Lin, Y. (2010, June), Curriculum Wide Project Based Learning By Refining Capstone Projects Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16610

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