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Development Of High Performance Capstone Project Teams And The Selection Process

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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

Teams and Teamwork in Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.419.1 - 15.419.10



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Paper Authors

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Stephen Laguette University of California-Santa Barbara

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

Development of High Performance Capstone Project Teams and the Selection Process


A successful Capstone Design program including companion design courses has been developed1,2 that has become an integral and important component of the Mechanical Engineering curriculum. A variety of challenging projects are created each year to appeal to student academic and career interests. Students work in teams with the assistance of a faculty advisor to tackle a significant mechanical engineering design project. The formation of student teams can be a challenging and time consuming process that is critical to the success of the design project and the course experience. Attention has now been focused upon the formation of student teams and the selection process in the hopes of developing high performance student teams.

Successful student teams should include enthusiastic, motivated and engaged students as they must address the project over the academic year of the Fall, Winter and Spring quarters. The student team should also include satisfactory skills, technical or academic expertise required for each project. By including student preferences in the team formation process and careful assessment of student strengths and weaknesses, the development of a high performance Capstone project team may be more likely to occur.

This paper will address the experiences and the evolution of project team formation and the student selection process. It has now evolved to include an online process that allows the student to identify individual preferred project selections. The process also includes the ability to capture individual student academic and career interests as well as the expertise that may be offered towards the project and team.

Typical class size is between 75 and 110 senior ME students resulting in 15 to 22 projects and teams each year. The Capstone projects include Industry Partnered, Research Partnered, Student Competitions, and Independently created projects. The Capstone projects reflect the technical expertise of the department and faculty including solid mechanics, structures, materials, dynamics, systems and control, robotics, fluid mechanics, thermal sciences, computational science, and nanotechnology. Projects are created each year that vary in the type and the level of technical challenges to be addressed by the student teams.

This selection process has resulted in the elimination of dysfunctional teams in terms of performance and team dynamics, ensured a mix of skills and expertise, and has created a positive environment for high performance teams to flourish.


A review of the published literature indicates that little attention has been given to the development of high performance Capstone Design student project teams. Attention in the

Laguette, S. (2010, June), Development Of High Performance Capstone Project Teams And The Selection Process Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16144

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