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Engineering In Context: A Multidisciplinary Capstone Design Experience Incorporating Real World Constraints

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

ABET Criterion 4 and Liberal Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.555.1 - 9.555.33



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Paper Authors

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Dana Elzey

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Dan Bauer

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Paxton Marshall

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Kathryn Neeley

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

Session 3461

Engineer ing in Context: A Multidisciplinar y Team Capstone Design Exper ience Incor por ating Real Wor ld Constr aints

Kathr yn A. Neeley, Dana Elzey, Dan Bauer and Paxton Mar shall Univer sity of Vir ginia

We [engineers] also do not readily focus on the big picture. This is perhaps why we haven't always seen ourselves as agents of change...We need to help them [engineers] contemplate their wor k in the lar ger context because what they do often changes the 'big picture' dramatically over time. That 'big picture' encompasses economic, political, social, and ethical components.

It is important, but not enough, that engineers are taught excellence in design to achieve safety, reliability, cost and maintenance objectives. It is important, but not enough, to teach them to create, operate and sustain complex systems. It is important, but not enough, for them to understand and participate in the process of research. It is important, but not enough, for them to develop the intellectual skills for life-long learning.... Engineering is not just about doing things right, but also about doing the r ight things.1

NSF Acting Deputy Director Joseph Bordogna at the MIT Club, “Next Generation Engineering: Critical Trajectories, Holistic Approaches” September 12, 1997 (emphasis added)

Intr oduction: Focusing on the Big Pictur e

In the Spring 2003 semester, the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) at the University of Virginia introduced a new three-course sequence to provide engineering students with a multidisciplinary team capstone design experience. The sequence begins in the spring of the junior year, continues through the senior year, and is designed to help students “contemplate their work in the larger context” that includes “economic, political, social, and ethical components.” This initiative, called “Engineering in Context” (EIC), addresses the concern that engineering graduates are frequently ill equipped for the interdisciplinary, collaborative, and cost-driven environment of the professional engineer.

The EIC program also responds to the ABET Criterion 4 requirement, which states that “Students must be prepared for engineering practice through the curriculum culminating in a major design experience based on the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier course work and incorporating engineering standards and realistic constraints that include most of the following considerations: economic; environmental; sustainability; manufacturability; ethical; health and safety; social; and political.” These “considerations” are the contextual aspects that form the philosophical umbrella over the University of Virginia’s Engineering in Context initiative.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Elzey, D., & Bauer, D., & Marshall, P., & Neeley, K. (2004, June), Engineering In Context: A Multidisciplinary Capstone Design Experience Incorporating Real World Constraints Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13234

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