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Modifying Senior Design: A Design Review

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Capstone Design II

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.886.1 - 14.886.8

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Paper Authors

author page

Regina Hannemann University of Kentucky

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

Modifying Senior Design: A Design Review


The Senior Design Course in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Kentucky is currently going through a total redesign. The goals of the course modification are to 1) give the students a better understanding of real world problems, 2) expose the students to open-ended problems, 3) enhance the students’ professional skills, and last but not least with all the previous goals, 4) ensure compliance with ABET standards.

The introduction of new elements into the class is phasewise. There are many different reasons for this approach: a radical change of one course without changing the overall curriculum is hard to sell to faculty and students. Furthermore, an immediate change due to ABET requests had been necessary to ensure a positive accreditation outcome. Finally, while reviewing the different successful models at other programs it became clear that none of these models would provide all aspects for a successful program needed by our students. Therefore, over the past years new elements have been introduced to the Senior Design Class remodeling it into a successful Capstone Design Class. This paper will present a design review of the current structure of the course including experiences, challenges, and successes. It will further outline future changes to the course planned for the next couple of semesters. The design review is needed at this point because it is planned to implement the next major step in the remodeling process: switching from a one-semester course to a two-semester sequence in the fall of 2009. Evaluating the status will help to define current strengths of the course, which should be kept and reinforced, as well as current shortfalls, which should not be transferred to the two-semester sequence if possible. Presenting this design review will encourage other educators to reflect on the status of their own Capstone Design Courses.


This paper briefly describes the redesign process of the Senior Design Course in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Kentucky. The redesign was initiated by the department’s 2004 ABET Accreditation visit, where an immediate change to the course had been necessary to ensure a positive accreditation outcome. Further changes have been introduced over the following semesters to strengthen the students’ experience.

The course also needed to be adapted to the fact that it now serves not only electrical engineering students but also computer engineering students, since the Computer Engineering program was formally introduced at the University of Kentucky in Fall 2005. The Computer Engineering program has gone through an ABET accreditation visit in Fall 2008 without any major comments on the status of the senior design class.

This paper is based mainly on anecdotal evidence. The author is the course coordinator for the class since Spring 2006. So far, besides the bi-annual teacher course evaluations obtained for all classes at the university, no instrument exists to formally test the effects of the introduced

Hannemann, R. (2009, June), Modifying Senior Design: A Design Review Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.

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