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Developing An Industry Sponsored Capstone Learning Environment

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.398.1 - 8.398.11



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Paper Authors

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Harold Evensen

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Paula Zenner

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

Session 1566

Developing an Industry Sponsored Capstone Learning Environment Harold A. Evensen, Paula F. Zenner, Thomas R. Grimm, Martin D. Tervo Michigan Technological University


A capstone learning experience that educates over two hundred mechanical engineering seniors annually has been developed in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University. The two-course sequence program draws on the traditional academic elements of mechanical engineering while incorporating real industrial problem solving, corporate environments, concept validation and prototyping in a teamed setting. Over seventy-five percent of the projects are sponsored by industry. Delivery structure, implementation barriers, funding models, evaluation and assessment methods will be presented.


The Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University did a thorough study of ABET design requirements under the new guidelines. An initial review and benchmarking of universities also indicated that industrial sponsorship of a large percentage of projects would be educationally important and that a full academic year (two semesters) of senior design would be necessary to complete challenging projects. The initial concerns of the department were facilities requirements, providing a sufficient number of faculty advisors and the difficulty scheduling the anticipated 250 mechanical engineering seniors per year. The current system was phased in over a two year period with a requirement of a full semester of senior design for senior students “caught’ in the transition. The requirement under the previously used quarter system was just one quarter of senior design. Industry sponsorship started very small, at about twenty-five percent of all projects and has grown to more that seventy-five percent.

Michigan Tech supports one of the largest mechanical engineering programs in the country. The large number of students in the senior design sequence has made it necessary to focus on logistics and delivery methods. Team size has remained small (3-6 students per team) while the lecture portion has been optimized for large enrollments. Facilities in the 13-story mechanical engineering building were expanded during the summer of 2000, just prior to the semester conversion. Space in the ME-EM building was converted from offices and labs to student design studios, prototyping and fabrication labs. There was also an expansion of the machine shop to enable completion of design projects from concept to prototype construction and testing.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Evensen, H., & Zenner, P. (2003, June), Developing An Industry Sponsored Capstone Learning Environment Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12674

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