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Leveraging Cooperative Education Experiences to Enhance and Develop the Capstone Design Course

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Cooperative & Experiential Education Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1091.1 - 26.1091.7



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Paper Authors


Christopher P. Pung Grand Valley State University

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Dr. Pung has interests in experiential learning, design processes and student teams.

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Paul D. Plotkowski Grand Valley State University

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Paul Plotkowski is the founding Dean of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing and Professor of Engineering at Grand Valley State University. Over the past 20 years he has led the development of an emerging engineering program into a comprehensive college that now offers 7 BS and 3 MS degrees to a population of over 2,000 students. He holds BSE, MSE and Ph.D. degrees from Oakland University.

Dr. Plotkowski is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He received the ASME Dedicated Service award, and other distinguished awards, including the Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award from SME, the Outstanding Teaching award from Pi Tau Sigma, and the Chairman’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Experiential Education from the Cooperative and Experiential Education Division of ASEE. He is former vice president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and serves as an ABET evaluator for both mechanical and manufacturing engineering programs.

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Chris Plouff Grand Valley State University

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Chris Plouff, Ed.D., P.E., is the Interim Director of the School of Engineering and the James R. Sebastian Chair of Engineering Cooperative Education and Educational Development at Grand Valley State University. He oversees the operations of the School of Engineering, including course scheduling, budget, coordination of assessment efforts, and the mandatory cooperative education program. As an Associate Professor, his research interests include effective assessment of engineering education, cooperative education, transition to and from the engineering educational environment, and first-year engineering program development. Prof. Plouff has a Doctorate in Education from Eastern Michigan University, a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Michigan Tech University, and is a registered Professional Engineer in Michigan.

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Leveraging Cooperative Education Experiences to Enhance and Develop the Capstone Design CourseAt XXXX University multiple cooperative education experiences are required for graduation.Beginning the summer following the students’ sophomore year they spend alternate semesterswith an industry partner. The co-op program also engages students in on-line elementsaddressing professional topics including engineering economics and project management. Skillsgained during these semesters are readily applied to a capstone experience that entails industrysponsored design and build style projects.The ability to comfortably interact with others in an industrial environment, manage projectsentailing interactions with other portions of the business outside of engineering such aspurchasing, skilled trades, marketing, sales and others allows a wide variety of challengingprojects to be considered for the capstone design course. This preparation also allows for theprojects to complete the entire product development and delivery cycle including design by theteam and acceptance by the sponsor, building of the product, testing, and delivery. Frequently, capstone projects are proposed by companies that currently have one or more co-opstudents. If appropriate the co-op student acts as the point contact between the student team andthe industry sponsor. This corporate and cultural knowledge minimizes the amount ofmiscommunication and also allows faster turn around times for things such as purchase orders,work orders and decision making. This allows projects which may otherwise be out of scope fora two semester course sequence to be accepted. This increases the value to the sponsoringcompanies and also the student experience.Sponsoring companies frequently hire students that were part of a capstone team that theysupported. This paper will describe the synergistic relationship between the co-op program andthe senior capstone project course at this University, including the student preparation gainedduring the co-op semesters resulting in a mature, industry-sponsored senior capstone projectexperience. A variety of capstone projects that were made possible through this program, andthe skills that were brought to bear by students that were acquired through their cooperativeeducation experiences, will be presented.

Pung, C. P., & Plotkowski, P. D., & Plouff, C. (2015, June), Leveraging Cooperative Education Experiences to Enhance and Develop the Capstone Design Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24428

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