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Enhancing Senior Capstone Design Course through International and Multidisciplinary Projects

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Capstone and International Experiences

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.572.1 - 25.572.12



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Paper Authors


Rob O. Hovsapian Florida State University

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Rob Hovsapian spent almost 20 years working for General Dynamics, TRW, and Northrop Grumman. Currently, he serves as an Associate Scholar Scientist/Faculty, Instructor of record for a senior capstone design course, for the Mechanical Engineering Department, and a Program Manager at the Center for Advanced Power Systems for the Electric Ship Research and Development Consortium (ESRDC) for the Office of Naval Research. He has been responsible for the successful establishment/deployment of several flexible manufacturing startup facilities globally, working on multiple continents and with many cultures, which produced sophisticated defense electronics equipment, complex automotive systems, and advanced semiconductors. Hovsapian has personally been recognized nationally for his process improvement activities in manufacturing excellence. He received his master's of science and doctorate in mechanical engineering from Florida State University.

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Chiang Shih Florida A&M University/Florida State University

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Chiang Shih is a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME), FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, Florida State University (FSU). He received his Ph.D. degree from the Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Southern California in 1988 and joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering shortly after. Shih served as the Chair of the department from 2002 to 2011, during which time he led efforts in advancing both educational and research programs of the department. He spearheaded the enhancement of the capstone design curriculum by the establishment of strong multidisciplinary and international collaborations. At the graduate level, he was instrumental in the revamp of the five-year B.S.-M.S. dual degree program and the development of a strong doctoral program, which received excellent ranking in the most recent National Research Council (NRC) doctoral program assessment.
Working with FSU administration and engineering colleagues, Shih spent the past four years (2008-2012) working on the establishment of a coalition across disciplinary boundaries in Aeropropulsion, Mechatronics and Energy (AME). The research consortium consists of 13 core faculty from three different engineering departments, 10 postdocs and research scientists, four full-time staff, and more than 50 graduate students. The center has recently moved into a newly completed AME Center, a $22 million, 60,000 square feet, multi-disciplinary applied research building with a state-of-the-art research infrastructure and educational facility, where Shih currently serves as the inaugural Center Director.

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Juan Ordonez Florida A&M University/Florida State University

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Jose Vargas Universidade Federal de Parana


Necesio Gomes Costa Universidade Federal de Itajubá

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Necesio Gomes Costa graduated in metallurgical engineering from Universidade Federal Fluminense (1983). His master's degree was in metallurgical engineering from the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RJ), 1988, and his Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Birmingham, U.K., 1996. He is currently Associate Professor II, Universidade Federal de Itajubá. He published several articles in professional journals and papers in international conferences. He has several research fellows under his supervision. He is a consultant for several industry regarding materials science. And he coordinates several international projects with Germany, France, and USA.

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Enhancing Senior Capstone Design Course through International and Multidisciplinary ProjectsAbstractOver the years the Mechanical Engineering capstone senior design course at our school hasevolved to parallel the real world engineering design projects found in the industry. This courseis designed to better prepare our senior mechanical engineering students for realistic hands-on,team based projects. We have methodically increased our interaction with industry to solicitexternally-sponsored projects such that about 80% projects are sponsored by corporations orgovernment research labs. Moreover, with the recent globalizing trend, engineering projects areincreasingly becoming multidisciplinary while involving international partners, making itimportant that we introduce more international projects to better prepare our students. In recentyears we increased our multidisciplinary projects significantly, closer to 50% of our total numberof projects have been multidisciplinary involving industrial, electrical/computer engineering andentrepreneurship program from the Business School. This year we have introduced threeinternational projects, two with two different Brazilian universities and one with a university inArmenia. More than 10% of our students are directly involved with these international projectsincluding 8 Brazilian students (3 during the fall-spring semesters and 5 more in spring 2012)actually work alongside with our students through an international exchange program. Inaddition, another 4 of our own students are currently working on the same projects in Brazilthrough the same exchange program.An international project introduces the students to a new set of challenges and demands that theyhave to pay special attention in order to function as an integrated and cohesive team. With ageographically separated team, we have found it requires more careful planning for projectcoordination and effective communication, which will help overcome language barriers, culturaldifferences as well as other obstacles that occur. Becoming skilled at effective communicationwith each other and with the industrial partners is important, so that the students gain anunderstanding of how to successfully manage those projects. Scheduling for the studentsbecomes difficult when there are several time zones between them. They are required to holdboth formal and informal team meetings, by videoconference and web meetings via social media,in order to communicate and function as a cohesive team. How the work load is distributed andmanaged between the team members is another key component to address when working on aninternational capstone design project.This paper will discuss the challenges, changes and accommodations we incorporated as part ofthis course for executing those multidisciplinary/international projects where students are fromdifferent departments and countries. It will outline how these challenges are addressed in thecapstone design courses between departments and international partners.

Hovsapian, R. O., & Shih, C., & Ordonez, J., & Vargas, J., & Costa, N. G. (2012, June), Enhancing Senior Capstone Design Course through International and Multidisciplinary Projects Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21329

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