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Implementation Of A Complex Multidisciplinary Capstone Project For Stimulating Undergraduate Student Development

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Capstone

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.673.1 - 15.673.11



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Paper Authors

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Robert Rabb United States Military Academy

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Joseph Hitt USMA

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Robert Floersheim US Military Academy

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

Implementation of a Complex Multidisciplinary Capstone Project for Stimulating Undergraduate Student Development


Complex, multidisciplinary capstone projects require multi-faceted teams of faculty and students, representing two or more technical areas of expertise. Engineering education has emphasized more multidisciplinary work as graduates are expected to perform on multidisciplinary engineering teams and have some working knowledge in other engineering disciplines. The need for multidisciplinary educators to work together as a team requires coherent effort with excellent communications between faculty members from different departments. Many of the challenges from these complex projects can be minimized by the faculty, allowing the students to expand their engineering education experiences. The scope and depth of these complex projects must be tailored to the student team and requires periodic checks to ensure customer requirements and course objectives are met. This paper highlights a complex, multidisciplinary capstone project with students and advisors from different departments: electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, physical education, and behavioral science. This organizational structure is important, allowing the multidisciplinary faculty team to synchronize their efforts, bringing their individual strengths and resources together for developing an advanced prosthetic to promote student learning. This paper illustrates some of the project details employed between four separate departments to advance and enrich a multidisciplinary capstone project. Advantages to empowering a multidisciplinary faculty are also described. The techniques described allow the students to benefit from the work of a diverse, multidisciplinary faculty team and enrich the students’ understanding by bringing in real world projects.


Government as well as private industry and many academic institutions feel that it is important to integrate engineering because many modern systems are developed with integrated engineering teams. In 2005 the National Academy of Engineering in “Educating the Engineer of 2020,” stated many benefits and merits of co-teaching, just in time teaching, and multi-disciplinary teaching.1 Recent program outcomes criteria published by ABET have included in its list of a-k criteria, a requirement for engineering programs to demonstrate that students have “an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams.”2 Even discipline specific organizations have identified the need for their disciplines to cross boundaries. In the “2028 Vision for Mechanical Engineering,’ ASME directs attention to the complexity of advanced technologies and the multiple scales at which systems interact. Both will require engineers to team up in developing multidisciplinary solutions.3 In “Vision 2020: Reaction Engineering Roadmap,” from AIChE, participants acknowledged the need for multidisciplinary education to handle highly integrated knowledge and suggested incentives and resources for development of interdisciplinary courses.4 Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) developed the program “Enhanced Experience for Engineering Education (E4).”5 This program joined students and faculty from all engineering disciplines for the first two years of the student’s engineering education and provided an intense integration experience. However, many academic institutions integrate students much later through coursework and capstone projects. One advantage of a later integrative experience is that the

Rabb, R., & Hitt, J., & Floersheim, R. (2010, June), Implementation Of A Complex Multidisciplinary Capstone Project For Stimulating Undergraduate Student Development Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15939

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