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Extending the 2015 Capstone Design Survey: Data from Australia and New Zealand

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

The Best in DEED

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Susannah Howe Smith College

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Susannah Howe, Ph.D. is the Design Clinic Director in the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College, where she coordinates and teaches the capstone engineering design course. Her current research focuses on innovations in engineering design education, particularly at the capstone level. She is invested in building the capstone design community; she is a leader in the biannual Capstone Design Conferences and the Capstone Design Hub initiative. She is also involved with efforts to foster design learning in middle and high school students and to support entrepreneurship at primarily undergraduate institutions. Her background is in civil engineering with a focus on structural materials. She holds a B.S.E. degree from Princeton, and M.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell.

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Laura Mae Rosenbauer Smith College

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Laura Rosenbauer is an engineering major and landscape studies minor at Smith College. She is a research assistant on the national and international capstone survey efforts and the development of CDHub 2.0. She is also assisting with a new research collaboration to study the transition from capstone design to work. She was a summer intern at the Urban Water Innovation Network, where she studied the thermodynamic and hydrologic properties of pavements. She is interested in a career in civil engineering.

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Capstone design courses are common in engineering design programs, but they vary substantially across institution and department. The goal of the decennial capstone design survey initiative has been to capture data from capstone design courses every ten years to identify current practices and changes over time. The 1994, 2005, and 2015 surveys have focused almost exclusively on capstone programs within the United States. This paper documents an initial extension of the 2015 survey to Australia and New Zealand to identify how capstone courses are implemented outside the United States. and what strategies can be shared across countries. As in their United States. counterpart, the 2015 Australia and New Zealand surveys included quantitative, categorical, and open-ended questions on capstone course information, pedagogy, evaluation, faculty, students, projects and teams, expenses and funding, sponsors, and respondent experience and opinion. This paper presents highlights of the resulting data by country, drawing comparisons where possible across countries: Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Overall, the essence of capstone design courses in the three countries is quite similar; there are variations in implementation details, but these are often greater across programs or institutions than they are across nations. Collecting data about capstone design practices in different nations is an important step toward the larger goals of understanding and improving capstone design education globally.

Howe, S., & Rosenbauer, L. M. (2017, June), Extending the 2015 Capstone Design Survey: Data from Australia and New Zealand Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28345

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