June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Design in Engineering Education
15.496.1 - 15.496.7
Engineering Senior Design Course (“New and Improved”) Abstract
Senior Design is one of the most important courses in an engineering curriculum, because Senior Design utilizes much of the knowledge and skills gained during the undergraduate study. Therefore, many program outcomes for the engineering curriculum can be assessed in the Senior Design course1,2,3.
Before 2007, the senior design course in our relatively new Computer Engineering program was similar to a Master’s thesis, was mainly focused on technical knowledge, and was especially focused on building a working prototype. Each student had his own technical advisor. However, we realized that this focus did not teach the early stages of design (such as literature search, market study, and cost analysis) and did not adequately emphasize soft skills (such as working effectively as a member of a multidisciplinary team, understanding professional and ethical responsibilities, understanding the impact of engineering solutions, communicating effectively, and learning by oneself). Therefore, we revised the Senior Design course to include these topics.
This paper describes the restructured (“new and improved”) Senior Design course, including: how the student teams are formed, the early design stages, prototyping and test, oral presentations, and conference attendance for the last two years. The students’ evaluation methods and outcomes assessments are also presented. Finally, the problems and challenges in the Senior Design course are discussed. Overall, this “new and improved” Senior Design course helps students to develop many skills which were not previously developed. As one example of a successful student project, “Sense-o-matic Cane: Ungrounded Detection for the Blind” won Second Place in Technology and Engineering at the 2008 HBCU-UP National Research conference.
The Computer Engineering Program at the Virginia State University, a small Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), was established in 2001 as a traditional program of study, with most of the freshman directly graduated from high school. The program underwent ABET accreditation during the 2006-2007 academic year for the first time, and the first cohort of students graduated from the program in May 2006.
Senior Design was initially a one-semester course with multiple teachers. Each teacher taught a distinct section. Each student selected his own teacher/section. Generally there were 3 or 4 sections, each section having only 1 to 3 students. One problem with this initial structure was that the sections were very non-uniform. Another problem was that the class focused almost exclusively on building a working prototype, and neglected the overall process of design (especially soft skills).
In order to prepare our students for the local and globalized workplace, the Senior Design course was restructured during Fall 2007. The restructured Senior Design course is two semesters
Garcia-Otero, S., & Sheybani, E. (2010, June), Engineering Senior Design Course (“New And Improved”) Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/15834
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