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Focused Follow Up To 2005 National Capstone Survey

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Capstone Design I

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.616.1 - 13.616.12



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Paper Authors


Susannah Howe Smith College

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Susannah Howe is the Design Clinic Director in the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College. She coordinates and teaches the capstone engineering design course and serves as co-faculty advisor for entrepreneurial activity at Smith. Her interests include innovations in engineering design education, entrepreneurship education across disciplines at the undergraduate level, and durability and structural performance of cementitious and natural building materials.

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

Focused Follow-Up to 2005 National Capstone Survey


This work details a survey of engineering capstone design courses focused on faculty teaching load and capstone funding levels. The survey was distributed to the attendees of the inaugural National Capstone Design Course Conference in June 2007. The survey yielded responses from 59 participants, representing 45 institutions. The results of the survey provide valuable insight into number and duration of design projects, team size, capstone teaching credit, faculty involvement, direct project costs, and external funding levels.

1. Introduction

Capstone design courses offer engineering students a culminating design experience through an applied engineering project. Encouraged in part by ABET support, these courses have become common in engineering departments across the United States. The composition of capstone courses, however, varies widely, as demonstrated by results from national surveys in both 1994 1 and 2005 2,3. Highlights of the 2005 survey results, in comparison with the 1994 predecessors where possible, were presented at the opening keynote address of the inaugural National Capstone Design Course Conference in June 2007.

While both surveys gathered volumes of data about practices in capstone education, specifics of faculty teaching load and range of capstone funding levels for a given program were not captured precisely. In order to address teaching load and funding levels in more detail, a focused follow- up survey was distributed to attendees at the conference. The results and their analysis contribute to an ongoing effort to better understand and, ultimately improve, engineering capstone design education.

2. Methods

The inaugural National Capstone Design Course Conference in June 2007 mentioned above opened with a keynote session focused on capstone design course data from two national surveys. Near the beginning of this presentation, audience members received a two-page paper survey and were encouraged to complete it with information about their own capstone programs. Some respondents submitted their completed surveys at the end of the keynote session but the majority deposited theirs in a collection box at the conference registration table. A few respondents sent their results to the author by email or post following the conference.

Approximately 150 people attended the conference; the exact number of attendees at the keynote session is unknown. From the audience in attendance, the survey yielded responses from 59 faculty, representing 55 distinct departments at 45 institutions. This respondent pool is not a random sample of capstone programs nationally or globally, but rather a self-selected pool from those attending the capstone conference. Note also that the capstone audience represented only a small sample of the total number of ABET-accredited programs nationally (1796 in fall 2006 4) the vast majority of which, as previous survey results suggest 1,2,3, likely have capstone courses.

Howe, S. (2008, June), Focused Follow Up To 2005 National Capstone Survey Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4278

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