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Examining the Structure of a Multidisciplinary Engineering Capstone Design Program

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Capstone Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.560.1 - 24.560.17



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Paper Authors


Bob Rhoads The Ohio State University

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Bob Rhoads received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University and his Masters in Business Administration from Regis University. He is also a P.E. He is the Engineering Capstone Program Coordinator for The Ohio State University.

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Clifford A Whitfield Ohio State University

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Cliff Whitfield has a PhD in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and is currently working as an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department and the Multidisciplinary Engineering Capstone Program for the Engineering Education Innovation Center at Ohio State University.

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Jacob T Allenstein The Ohio State University

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Received a Master's Degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at The Ohio State University in 2013 and a Bachelor's Degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at The Ohio State University in 2011. Currently a Graduate Research Associate at the Aerospace Research Center (ARC) while an Instructor of Record for the first-year engineering program for the Engineering Education Innovation Center (EEIC) at The Ohio State University

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Peter Rogers The Ohio State University

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Dr. Peter Rogers,
Professor of Practice
Engineering Education Innovation Center
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH 43210

Rogers joined the university in October, 2008 bringing with him 35 years of industrial experience. His career includes senior leadership roles in engineering, sales, and manufacturing in robotics, electronics, sensors, and controls industries. Throughout his career, Rogers has developed products using an innovative process consisting of multidisciplinary teams focused on understanding customer needs and converting them to commercially viable products and services. He brings this experience to the university where he leads the effort in developing company-sponsored, product-oriented Capstone design programs.
As part of the mission of the Engineering Education Innovation Center (EEIC), Rogers has co-led the development of an ABET approved curriculum for a year-long Capstone experience. With a focus on providing students with a broader experience base, the multidisciplinary program applies teams of engineers, business, design, and other students to work with Ohio companies to help them be more competitive. Teams apply a company’s core competencies to help develop new products and markets. This experiential learning emphasizes real-world problem solving, professional communication and ethics, teamwork, and implementation of a formalized design process.
Additionally, Rogers has created the Social Innovation and Commercialization initiative by collaborating with business, engineering, and design colleges. Partnering with local non-profit organizations, teams define unmet problems working with people with various disabilities—problems that can be solved with an innovative product. The educational goal is to provide experiential learning with a social outreach. The social goal is to produce income to help non-profit partners become self-sustaining while improving the independence of people with disabilities.
Rogers earned his PhD at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst focused on mechanical engineering and manufacturing. He has presented a number of industrial conference papers and holds several patents. He served as co-chair of the organizing committee for the 2012 Capstone Design Conference and is hosting the Conference at Ohio State in June 2014. He holds the position of Professor of Practice at The Ohio State University.

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Examining the Structure of a Multidisciplinary Engineering Capstone Design ProgramThe [Institution Center] at [Institution] offers students, through its Multidisciplinary EngineeringCapstone Design Program, a broad range of opportunities for both engineering and non-engineering students to work directly with industry personnel on company-sponsored productand process design projects. The [Institution Center] provides students an opportunity to applytheir academics and professional and practical skills to real-world problems as a member of amultidisciplinary team. The program is a two-semester design sequence beginning with a seven-week pre-capstone course. After completion of the pre-capstone course, capstone coordinatorsform teams appropriate to the project scope. The coordinators also assign a faculty advisor andidentify an industry liaison to ensure project success.The program enriches the learning experience by providing the students an opportunity to workwith industry while applying their academic background. The program covers all aspects of theengineering design process and helps develop several critical professional skills includingtechnical oral and written communication, professional working relationships, project and timemanagement, ethics, and a broad understanding of relationship of business, engineering, anddesign elements. The program provides an opportunity for student design teams to contribute toreal industry projects by applying the complete design cycle including defining the problem,creating the requirements, creating design concepts, developing detailed specifications, creatinga detailed design solution, building a prototype, validating the design, refining the design,documenting the design process, and identifying future recommendations.The program began in 2009 and has included over 20 (both engineering and non-engineering)disciplines with approximately 450 students completing the program through the spring of 2013.The program offers students projects from process and equipment improvements to new productdevelopment. Non-engineering students are involved through an engineering sciences minorprogram where students are required to participate in an engineering capstone project. . Theprogram has also involved Masters of Business Administration students mainly in the role ofproject manager for the project team. This promotes discipline diversity in the program whilegiving students academic credit.To better understand how the program structure prepares students for careers, the authorsdistributed a survey to 370 post-graduates. The alumni survey focused on the impacts of theprogram’s learning objectives to prepare students for their professional careers after theirundergraduate education. This paper addresses the quantitative results of the survey and assessesthe program’s structure and organizational layout. The authors focus on three learning outcomesthat include “an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams” (ABET Criteria 3d), “an ability tocommunicate effectively” (ABET Criteria 3g), and “the ability to manage an engineeringproject.”

Rhoads, B., & Whitfield, C. A., & Allenstein, J. T., & Rogers, P. (2014, June), Examining the Structure of a Multidisciplinary Engineering Capstone Design Program Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20451

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