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Designing And Teaching A Successful Industry Based Capstone Design Course

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.140.1 - 2.140.7



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Paper Authors

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V.J. Deleveaux

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C.O. Ruud

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

Session 1263

Designing and Teaching a Successful Industry Based Capstone Design Course

V.J. Deleveaux; C.O. Ruud

Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering The Pennsylvania State University

I. Introduction The challenge for manufacturing companies is to design and manufacture high quality products, on time and at minimum cost. As a consequence, the need for well-rounded engineering graduates who can contribute directly to the growth and profitability objectives of the company is critical. Thus, the required core competencies extend beyond technical ability to include: effective communication skills, planning and prioritization, time management, working in teams, and knowledge of the financial aspects of the business [Helms, 1995]. Unfortunately, these competencies are among those identified as key weaknesses of the engineering graduate. Hood, Sorensen and Magleby [Hood,1993] list the weaknesses identified by industry to include: 1)weak communication skills, 2) poor perception of the overall project engineering process, 3) little skill or experience working in teams, 4) a narrow view of engineering and related disciplines, 5) no understanding of manufacturing processes, and 6) a lack of appreciation for considering alternatives. At a recent “Voice of Industry” workshop sponsored by the Penn State University, for the National Coalition for Manufacturing Leadership, the consensus opinion of the industry participants seconded that two of the major skills in which engineering graduates were weak are interpersonal and communication [NCML,1996]

Consequently, the Penn State Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (I & ME) department has designed a Capstone course to address these weakness. The Capstone course began in the Spring of 1994 as a joint effort between Industrial and Aerospace Engineering to design and manufacture a full size sail plane. By the fall of 1995 the course had expanded to 10 projects; all of which were inter-disciplinary. Examples of projects include: design and fabrication of semi- automated terminal insertion apparatus for a Gigafilter production line; design and development of a computer network system to link PC’s together; and determination of methods to improve the productivity of steer loader production lines. Teams are typically comprised of two to four students. The course is offered in one semester for 3 credit hours. Grading is based on team accomplishment, peer performance evaluations, written reports (proposal, progress, and final reports), and industry sponsor evaluation of team performance.

This paper describes the necessary components in the design and management of this successful capstone course. Attention will be given to the approach to teaching the course, as well as how the course is conducted. Of specific interest are the roles of the instructor, student, and industry


Deleveaux, V., & Ruud, C. (1997, June), Designing And Teaching A Successful Industry Based Capstone Design Course Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6502

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