Asee peer logo

Modernizing Capstone Project: External and Internal Approaches

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Tools and Techniques

Tagged Division

Computing and Information Technology

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Karen H. Jin University of New Hampshire

visit author page

Karen H. Jin has been an Assistant Professor of Computer Science in Computing Technology program at UNH Manchester since Spring 2016. She previously taught as a lecturer for over ten years in University of Windsor and Dalhousie University. Her interest in computer science education research focuses on developing new empirically supported theories and practices in teaching programming, software engineering and project-based learning with industrial relevance. She received her Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Computer Science from University of Windsor, Canada.

visit author page


Michael Jonas University of New Hampshire

visit author page

Michael Jonas is an Associate Professor of Computer Science in the Computing Technology and Engineering Technology programs at UNH Manchester. He has a Ph.D. in computer science from Tufts University and an M.S. in computer science from the College of William and Mary. He also has two bachelor's degrees, mathematics and computer science, also from William and Mary.

His research interests focus on Artificial Intelligence, with an emphasis on speech recognition. He previously worked as a senior development engineer at Microsoft Corporation and as a staff scientist at BBN Technologies, in both instances doing research in speech technology.

visit author page


Christopher David LeBlanc University of New Hampshire

visit author page

Christopher D. LeBlanc is currently the Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor for the Engineering Technology program at the University of New Hampshire Manchester campus. Prior to his faculty appointment he spent 16 years at International Business Machines (IBM) as an Analog Mixed Signal design engineer.

visit author page


Theodore Sean Tavares University of New Hampshire

visit author page

The author is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Technology Program located at the Manchester campus of the University of New Hampshire. He has held this position since the fall of 2014 following more than 20 years of industry experience. His industry experience has included performance testing of compressors and gas turbine engines; vibration and pulsation testing and troubleshooting of rotating machinery, piping, and structures; Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD); fluid dynamic design and analysis of turbomachinery (compressors, turbines, fans and pumps); root cause failure analysis; development of engineering software; and engineering design audits. While in industry he taught a number of professional short courses and seminars to both specialist and non-specialist audiences, and provided personalized technical and software training to industrial clients. He holds Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral Degrees from the M.I.T. Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Capstone projects are an important learning experience that gives students the opportunity to gauge how to apply what they have learned in a real-world environment. Traditional approaches have embedded students in industry where often, well-defined self-contained project are the focus. The lack of critical-path projects is necessary, as companies cannot risk their competitive advantage to afford students a cutting-edge experience. A common drawback to industry experience is that it can become difficult to clearly determine performance as goals can change and projects re-defined when students struggle and mentors assigned to them either don’t want to see students fail or lack the time to fully invest their attention on them. Another approach to Capstone projects is to internalize the experience by creating faculty led projects that focus on relevant work. This can manifest itself in research projects for undergraduates where the work that students do directly impact work of the faculty. A positive outcome is that this, by its nature, immerses students in a real-world experience as the research outcomes are not only a means to vet student competencies but are relevant to the work that faculty do for their own scholarship. Though a drawback may be a reduction of exposure to a wider range of emerging technologies one expects from industry, with that type of faculty engagement, and in an academic setting, perhaps a more robust Capstone experience can be achieved.

In the Applied Engineering and Sciences department at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester, which offers degree majors in computing and engineering technologies, both types of Capstone experiences have been explored. With its urban setting as a commuter campus in the largest city in our state, the college is ideally situated to work with industry partners in the area. Its engineering technology programs have successfully hosted senior Capstone projects for over 25 years, while its computing programs have similarly hosted professional Internship experiences for over a decade. Over the past seven years computing has introduced an undergraduate research project to augment the Internship experience with relative success [1], [2] and engineering technology has introduced options for its seniors to work in internally funded projects as well [3]. This paper will compare and contrast these two techniques of providing students with Capstone project experience to highlight the pros and cons of each. With a mix of both industry experience and faculty guided work, the aim is to provide an optimal approach that benefits students, industry partners, and faculty involved in this very important element to four-year educational degree program.

Jin, K. H., & Jonas, M., & LeBlanc, C. D., & Tavares, T. S. (2018, June), Modernizing Capstone Project: External and Internal Approaches Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30820

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015