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Faculty Perceptions of Industry Sponsorships in Capstone Design Courses

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

College Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session 1

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College Industry Partnerships

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Paper Authors


Jen Symons University of Portland

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Jen Symons is an Assistant Professor in Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering in the Shiley School of Engineering at the University of Portland. She is most passionate about teaching biomechanics and statistics for engineers. Her research focuses on understanding the causes of musculoskeletal injury and developing noninvasive mechanisms that prevent injuries and/or enhance performance in equine athletes.

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Kate Rohl University of Portland

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This research paper describes efforts to understand faculty engagement in industry collaborations within capstone design courses. Many studies have established the value of industry partnerships in engineering capstone design courses. Students are often identified as the primary beneficiary of these collaborations. Students benefit from exposure to professional practices, as well as non-engineering constraints (e.g. economic, legal, regulatory). Furthermore, students are able to develop a professional network. Industry sponsors are identified as a secondary beneficiary of these collaborations. Sponsors gain access to faculty expertise, as well as increased interactions with students that may inform offers of employment more so than traditional resumes and interviews. Lastly, the school/program benefits from these collaborations that provide feedback to improve curriculum, and in some cases can lead to program funding and/or capital investments. Faculty are rarely considered as potential beneficiaries of these industry collaborations. However, faculty engagement has been linked to student engagement, which is strongly tied to student learning. Faculty behaviors and attitudes have great potential to affect student motivation and academic gains across the curriculum. Therefore, faculty engagement may play an important role in the success of industry partnerships within capstone design courses that has been neglected in previous work.

This work aims to gain preliminary understanding of what factors influence faculty engagement in industry partnerships, and how these factors contribute to program-level fostering of industry sponsors in the curriculum. In the past 2 years, acceptance of increases in industry sponsorship has varied greatly between programs within our school. Faculty across all school disciplines (civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science) were surveyed (n=17, 55% response rate) to assess perception of faculty benefits and weaknesses of industry sponsorships within each discipline’s capstone courses. This individual feedback is coupled with differences in higher level program interactions with the school’s industry relations manager. Collectively, this information may provide potential mechanisms to incentivize individual faculty engagement in industry partnerships, as well as foster overall program and school support of these collaborations. The authors would prefer to present this work as a traditional podium/lecture presentation.

Symons, J., & Rohl, K. (2020, June), Faculty Perceptions of Industry Sponsorships in Capstone Design Courses Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34663

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