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Differences between Student and Faculty Expectations for a Robotics Capstone Design Project

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Capstone Design I

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.499.1 - 22.499.8



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Paper Authors


Kevin M. Sevilla Virginia Tech

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Kevin Sevilla is a Ph.D student at Virginia Tech in the Department of Engineering Education.

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Maura J. Borrego Virginia Tech

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Maura Borrego is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She is currently serving a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship at the National Science Foundation. Her research interests focus on interdisciplinary faculty members and graduate students in engineering and science, with engineering education as a specific case. Dr. Borrego holds U.S. NSF CAREER and Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) awards for her engineering education research. Dr. Borrego has developed and taught graduate level courses in engineering education research methods and assessment from 2005 - 2010. All of Dr. Borrego’s degrees are in Materials Science and Engineering. Her M.S. and Ph.D. are from Stanford University, and her B.S. is from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Alexander Leonessa Virginia Tech

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Differences between Student and Faculty Expectations for a Robotics Capstone Design ProjectThe typical U.S. engineering curriculum is structured as three years of fairly discrete courses. Inthe final year, students begin to have more freedom in the form of elective courses and a relevantcapstone design project designed to unify these concepts in application to an authentic designtask. Unaccustomed to making connections between their various courses, engineering studentshave difficulty seeing connections between the design project and their prior coursework. Withthis, there remains the question of how the perceptions of prior knowledge and its relevance tocapstone design compare between students and their faculty mentors. Since students’ actualexperiences rarely prepare them to meet faculty expectations in a capstone environment thereexists a fundamental difference in how the two sides view the necessary preparation to do so. Toinvestigate this issue, a series of interviews were conducted between a set of capstone designstudents and their faculty advisor on a mechanical engineering team preparing an entry for anautonomous surface vehicle competition. Within these interviews questions specificallyaddressed the prerequisite knowledge and experiences that the students felt were necessary to bea successful member of the team along with when and where these skills and knowledge were, orshould have been, acquired. In conjunction with this initial inquiry, data were gathered from thefaculty advisor ultimately showing significant differences in not only what skills and knowledgewere necessary but also at what level of prerequisite understanding exhibited. From observationsof the weekly meetings additional information regarding novice-expert considerations were alsoaddressed.

Sevilla, K. M., & Borrego, M. J., & Leonessa, A. (2011, June), Differences between Student and Faculty Expectations for a Robotics Capstone Design Project Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17780

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