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Development And Implementation Of Senior Design Projects At International Sites

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.364.1 - 6.364.6



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Paper Authors

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Jonathan Barnett

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Holly Ault

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Session 1360

Development and Implementation of Senior Design Projects at International Sites

Holly K. Ault, Jonathan R. Barnett Worcester Polytechnic Institute


ABET 2000 criteria state that undergraduate engineering students should have “the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context”.1 For the past 25 years, WPI has addressed this need by establishing a network of international centers where students complete projects focusing on socio-technological issues. More recently we have expanded the global project program to include projects in the students' major disciplines. Several senior capstone design projects have been completed at international sponsors' agencies. The teams are composed of competitively selected WPI engineering students who work on-site to solve a key problem posed by the sponsoring agency. During the process the students experience hands-on application of engineering projects and learn to work as technologists within the engineering domain of the host country. The outcome of their work is a fully documented professional report containing complete results and key recommendations, as appropriate, as well as a high quality presentation of the highlights of their findings to the sponsors. This paper describes our experiences in developing and building the project program to include senior capstone projects. Our experiences with identifying sponsoring agencies or companies, preparing students for international project work, and remote advising of student projects will be discussed. We will also describe some of the benefits for the students, the university and the sponsors that have been derived from these projects.


In 1970, Worcester Polytechnic Institute implemented the WPI Plan, an innovative, project-based undergraduate program unlike any other engineering program in the world. The objectives of the Plan were to provide a flexible, challenging program to help students “learn how to learn”2, as opposed to the rigidly prescribed curricula at engineering schools of the time. Under the WPI Plan, all students are required to complete three projects as degree requirements: a Humanities Sufficiency, an Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP), and a Major Qualifying Project (MQP). After thirty years, these project-based activities remain the core of the undergraduate curriculum at WPI. The Major Qualifying Project allows students work in teams on real-life projects in the students’ major areas of study. The students solve problems typical of those that will be encountered as entry-level professionals. These projects allow students to demonstrate most if not

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Barnett, J., & Ault, H. (2001, June), Development And Implementation Of Senior Design Projects At International Sites Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9114

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