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From Capstone Courses To Cornerstone Projects: Transferring Experiences From Design Engineering Final Year Students To First Year Students

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Assessing Design Coursework II

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.768.1 - 12.768.12



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Paper Authors

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Martin Grimheden Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

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

From Capstone Courses to Cornerstone Projects: Transferring Experiences from Design Engineering Final Year Students to First Year Students


At KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, large capstone courses have been the base of higher engineering programs in product development during the last 20 years. The capstone courses has since the establishment been expanded to cover the most part of the students’ final year and also constitutes the main competitive mean of attracting new students to the area of engineering design.

This paper presents results from an attempt to introduce a similar concept into the students’ first year of studies, in the form of cornerstone projects. The intention was to build on the extensive experience from the many capstone courses and projects, and to bridge the gap between the first year and the final year, with the purpose of giving a perspective and a broad overview of the entire curriculum and the following courses.

In conclusion, a number of mechanisms are presented for the exchange of experiences and knowledge between the students of the first and final years of studies. This has proved to be highly advantageous for especially the first year students to get a better understanding of the final years of their education and their future professional roles as design engineers.


In recent evaluations, students regard the capstone course as the most valuable course in their curriculum and their choice of specialization is often based on the reputation of the various capstone courses. This has been the case at KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology for quite some time, and with increased competition between specializations most departments have introduced capstone courses according to the internationally established setting where focus is on the utilization and application of knowledge and skills gained in previous courses and projects1.

Beginning in 2003, in an effort to adapt the engineering programs at KTH toward the Bologna process, based on a B.Sc. cycle followed by a M.Sc. cycle KTH chose to introduce the concept of cornerstone courses in a number of programs. These courses should give students “a perspective of the subject, the curriculum and of higher education in general” 2, 3, 4.

Where the capstone projects attempt to utilize knowledge and skills from previous courses the cornerstone projects should build on knowledge and skills gained in courses taken in parallel together with prior education and life experience. And, where the capstone projects attract students to specializations, the cornerstone projects could attract students to the entire program.

Grimheden, M. (2007, June), From Capstone Courses To Cornerstone Projects: Transferring Experiences From Design Engineering Final Year Students To First Year Students Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2362

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