San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.768.1 - 25.768.8
Increasing Student Learning Via An Innovative Capstone ProgramIntroductionThis innovative capstone program is anchored by a two-semester multidisciplinarycomprehensive project experience. Students from a variety of programs, mostly engineering-based but not exclusively so, are involved. A primary objective of the capstone sequence is toprovide, in a project setting, an educational experience consistent with professional practice.Thus, the curricular design is consistent with recommendations from several recent engineeringeducational studies, including Sheppard, S. et al. (2009) and Duderstadt (2008). Both of thesereports strongly urge the adoption of curricular mechanisms that include practice-likeexperiences, including both analysis and design, within more practice-based degree programs.An earlier report, “Educating the Engineer of 2020” (2005), called for a pedagogical approachmore similar to that used in medicine and law, e.g., “it is essential that the engineering professionadopt a structured approach to lifelong learning for practicing engineers similar to those inmedicine and law.”The Capstone Project Structure and ValueTo provide an educational experience consistent with professional practice, we have developedan industry-sponsored professional practice capstone program. Working with industry projectsponsors, we solicit open-ended design problems relevant to their business goals. Some sponsorsuse these projects as a mechanism to evaluate potential new technologies and applications.Others explore new markets by having student attempt to use the company’s technologies in newapplications. And for a few companies, the projects represent an opportunity to invest in highereducation. One to two faculty advisors are involved with each student team, in addition to thesponsor’s engineering liaison, but the conduct of the project is the responsibility of the studentteam. At the start of the semester, the program’s leaders execute a process to staff themultidisciplinary project teams with the specific skills, e.g., various student majors, needed tosuccessfully complete the projects.Each project has a team of four to eight students from various majors work on designing andimplementing a solution. These projects require the design and development of a workingprototype, a prototype that is professional in character. Typically, the first semester is focusedon the team completing a rigorous design process, involving establishing the problem statement,generation and evaluation of criteria, constraints, feasible solutions, and selection of the bestdesign solution. The second semester is focused on the final detailed design and thedevelopment of the prototype.Each sponsor provides a key stakeholder that functions as the project liaison and that the liaisonmeet with the team weekly (face to face or through virtual meetings). We believe students dotheir best, and receive the most educational benefits, when they are working with an industrycustomer and are working to meet the needs and demands of that customer.Additional explanation and description of the process of forming the teams and their functioningare described in the full paper. Assessment data are included that illustrate the increased learningand enhanced educational experience of the students due to this methodology. Also, favorablecomments from industry representatives are included.
Danielson, S., & Roberts, C. A. (2012, June), Increasing Student Learning via an Innovative Capstone Program Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/21525
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