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Enhancing The Capstone Design Experience In Civil Engineering

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

How to Effectively Teach Using Teams

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.673.1 - 12.673.20



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Paper Authors


Shashi Nambisan Iowa State University

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Shashi Nambisan, PhD, PE: Director of the Center for Transportation Research and Education and Professor of Civil Engineering at Iowa State University (ISU), Ames, Iowa. Prior to coming to ISU, Shashi was at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) from July 1989 to January 2007. He enjoys working with students and he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the area of Transportation systems as well as the undergraduate capstone design course sequence. An active researcher, Shashi has led efforts on over 130 research projects that have addressed and responded to local, statewide, regional and national issues in transportation and information systems management related to policy analysis, management, planning, infrastructure development, safety and operations.

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

Enhancing the Capstone Design Experience in Civil Engineering


This paper documents efforts in and outcomes from a two-semester sequence senior design experience to address some of the programmatic needs and accreditation criteria established by ABET. The capstone design course sequence described herein was enhanced based on an evaluation by the department faculty that included internal and external feedback on the previous structure. The paper documents the process implemented to help address several program specific accreditation criteria and objectives. Key criteria addressed include demonstrating the ability to work on design projects, to work on teams, to communicate effectively, to manage resources, and to work on complex projects. The paper documents details regarding the course background, course content, course administration and management (including schedules, deliverables, and grading considerations). It describes the methods used to form student teams, select projects, roles of faculty and client advisors / mentors, specific expectations of the student teams. Instruments used to administer and manage the courses are presented, including illustrative assessment tools. Results of some of the assessment conducted on the course offering in the Spring and Summer 2006 offering of this course sequence are also presented. The evaluations of the effectiveness of the course to help students develop or enhance the abilities stated as course objectives indicate that the changes made to the course were effective. The participation of practitioners as clients / mentors, who served in supplementary roles to the faculty advisors and the course instructor, was seen to be beneficial.


The need to provide undergraduate engineering students a well rounded educational experience, and to prepare them for success in the future (be it in industry or in graduate programs) has been well documented in the literature. These have been identified by a wide range of organizations such as ABET1, the National Science Foundation 2and the National Academy of Engineering3. Key areas of interest have been to help students appropriately apply concepts and theoretical principles, and to help students develop effective team work, management, and communication skills. Civil Engineering (CE) programs use a wide range of strategies to address such needs throughout the undergraduate curriculum. Design elements are typically incorporated across various courses. Examples of strategies used to help relate theory to practice include service- learning projects, experiential-learning, case-based projects, and industry-based or industry- sponsored projects 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 . The capstone design course is an integral part of the approach of many undergraduate CE programs. CE programs typically use their Capstone or Senior-Design Course(s) is to demonstrate compliance with several of ABET’s required accreditation criteria10. Various styles can be used to for the capstone design courses 11, 12. The Civil Engineering program at utilizes its Senior Design courses to help address several program specific accreditation criteria and objectives. This paper summarizes the Senior Design Course contents, administration, management, and evaluation of student performance.

Nambisan, S. (2007, June), Enhancing The Capstone Design Experience In Civil Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2322

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