San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.572.1 - 25.572.12
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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