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Design And Integration Of A Capstone Course To Achieve Program Outcomes

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Capstone Design III

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.362.1 - 13.362.12



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Paper Authors


Mohamed El-Sayed Kettering University

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Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Hybrid Vehicles Integration Laboratory. He has been teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level for over 30 years. He teaches Machine Design, Automotive Design, Machine Design Capstone, Automotive Design Capstone, Design Optimization, Advanced Mechanics of Materials, linear and Nonlinear Finite Element analysis, and Design for manufacturability. He has been a PI and Co-PI on several research grants and a consultant to several engineering corporations. He has over seventy research papers in addition to several patents.

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Steven Beyerlein University of Idaho

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Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He has been teaching Sophomore Design, Senior Design, and Combustion Engine Systems, testing of catalytic engine systems, conducting action research in the college classrooms, teaching and documenting open-ended problem solving, and designing professional development activities. He is a Member of the Transferable Integrated Design Engineering Education (TIDEE) consortium that produced and field tested a three component Design Team Readiness Assessment. He is a Co-PI on the NSF Enriched Learning Environment grant with primary responsibility for the formation and ongoing development of a community of research-based classroom practitioners at the University of Idaho

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



A capstone is the top and last stone in a building. Similarly, a capstone course is usually the peak and last experience for students in a higher education program. Depending on the discipline and institution capstone courses may take the form of group projects, senior seminars, research, or any other activity that successfully integrates and synthesizes what students have learned through the academic program. Originally a capstone course may have been viewed as a "finishing touch" to provide students with the needed information or skills before graduation, hence the name "capstone". Recently, the prevailing perspective is that a capstone course is an opportunity for students to “demonstrate” that they have met the goals established by their educational program. While the original view may lead to focusing on knowledge exchange and skills development with no measures relative to a reference profile, the recent view may cause no extra meaningful knowledge and skills to be developed in the course. It is the development of a common desired profile at the exit point of both the program and the capstone course that a meaningful experience for students to close the gap between the students’ state at the course entry and the desired program outcomes can be achieved. This paper addresses the natural integration of a capstone course with its educational program from a logical perspective. This perspective goes beyond providing the "finishing touch" and mere “demonstration” to actively pursue the profile of an expert in the field as the logical outcome for the course and the program.


Capstone courses and experiences are the “culminating experiences in which students synthesize subject-matter knowledge they have acquired, integrate cross-disciplinary knowledge, and connect theory and application in preparation for entry into a career.1 Capstone courses are usually taken last in the sequence of courses at the end of the senior year. The First National Survey of Senior Seminars and Capstone Courses conducted in 1999 suggested that these courses place the highest priority on culminating learning in the academic major, and more than 70% require a major project or presentation.2

While the form of a capstone course varies from one discipline to another, the desired outcome of providing students with a meaningful experience before their exit from the academic program is the same. The views, philosophies, and means of achieving this desired outcome, however, may vary from one institution to another. In some cases, the pedagogical approaches and views vary from one faculty to another in the same academic department. The reason is that while the value and importance of capstone courses are universally realized, a common universal definition or view has not been agreed upon yet. The multitude of definitions, however, can be grouped in the following two main views for the capstone courses and experiences: • Originally, a capstone course was viewed as a "finishing touch" to provide students with the needed information or skills before graduation, hence the name "capstone". With further development on this view a capstone course became, a culminating experience in

El-Sayed, M., & Beyerlein, S. (2008, June), Design And Integration Of A Capstone Course To Achieve Program Outcomes Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4381

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: © 2008 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