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Facilitating Student Professional Readiness through Industry Sponsored Senior Capstone Projects

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Capstone Projects and Experiential Learning

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.699.1 - 22.699.12



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Paper Authors


Chip W. Ferguson Western Carolina University

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Dr. Chip W. Ferguson
Chip Ferguson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering and Technology at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. He has five years of industrial experience working with mechanical and fluid power systems. His areas of interest include 3D constraint-based modeling and rapid product development.

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Phillip A. Sanger Western Carolina University

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Facilitating Student Professional Readiness through Industry Sponsored Senior Capstone ProjectsAbstractThere is a need for our engineering graduates to be work-ready entering the job market due to theincreased competitiveness of the global marketplace. In order to prepare our students for theglobal work environment, educators must graduate students who implement sound strategies forproblem solving and develop innovative and creative solutions to technical problems.Additionally, engineering graduates must be competent and comfortable working in teams andmake use of self-directed learning. Students must overcome their bias toward traditional methodsof teaching and learning by becoming “out of the box” thinkers who apply current knowledgeand theory, coupled with the self-learning of new knowledge, to develop solutions to real-worldengineering problems. The authors believe the Department of Engineering and Technology at______________ ______________ _________________, (___) has developed a model capstonecourse sequence meeting the previously stated educational outcomes. A two-course capstonesequence was developed in 2009 using self-directed project-based learning and newproduct/process development as guiding themes. The current paper discusses the attributes andpedagogy of the new course sequence, which couples the teaching of project management withthe creative process of developing new products. The projects were selected based on facultymentor expertise, funding availability, and a students’ desire to work on a specific project. In2009, fourteen industry funded projects were organized through the Center for ____________________ ________ at __________ ______________ _______________. The projectsvaried across several areas including medical devices and testing equipment, manufacturingproducts and processes, military and police devices, solar collectors and control devices, andsports equipment redesign. The Comprehensive Assessment for Team-Member Effectiveness(CATME) Team-Maker was employed in the development of student teams and the assignmentof projects. Faculty and industry mentors were assigned to each team at the beginning of thecourse sequence. As a first step, project management techniques such as work breakdownstructures, Gantt charting, scheduling and quantitative trade off studies were presented to thestudents. The stage-gate process was employed as a means of monitoring the progress of studentteams. As a second step, faculty mentors worked closely with each team during the design, build,and test stage-gates. A variety of presentation methods were used by the students to present theirprogress at each gate. Presentation methods included formal presentations in front of students,faculty, and industry partners; poster sessions; undergraduate exposition venues at ___, andpublishing a scholarly paper at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. As a finalstep, several methods were used in assessing and characterizing student performance includingthe CATME, instructor issued grades, mentor feedback, and industry mentor grades. Foradditional feedback to the capstone instructors, a pre-post survey was completed by each student.The current paper will provide a summary of the projects and course pedagogy, the collectedfeedback from both students and industry partners, and the future direction of the capstonecourse. Overall, the authors believe the capstone sequence at ___ represents an idea model forboth strengthening student professional readiness and preparing them to meet a competitiveglobal marketplace.

Ferguson, C. W., & Sanger, P. A. (2011, June), Facilitating Student Professional Readiness through Industry Sponsored Senior Capstone Projects Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17980

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