June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.976.1 - 11.976.13
Our First Experience with International Senior Design Projects – Lessons Learned Abstract The advantages of international experiences for engineering students are well documented. With this in mind, we decided to take our 18-year-old, client-based, senior design class “on the road.” This foray into the realm of international projects did not come without some anxieties: • Could we properly manage such a long-distance project? • How much of a sacrifice would it be to forego a site visit? • Would codes and regulations be nonexistent or difficult to obtain? • Would our student team experience frustration from communication challenges? • Would we sacrifice technical depth for international breadth? And these are just a few of the many questions and concerns we anticipated.
This paper seeks to share our answers to these questions and to provide lessons learned for others to consider. Our focus in this paper is on a project in an underdeveloped country: Trinidad. We start out by addressing how we obtained our first international project and how we selected the student team. The student authors are the project team, and they supply the student perspective on the challenges and rewards. Results of surveys of the students who did domestic senior design projects are also included to show their perspective of their classmates’ project (based on oral reports given to the class). The faculty authors are co-instructors of the senior capstone design course, and they provide insight into administration of the project. The paper ends with a list of lessons learned that may help others to avoid the pitfalls the authors experienced.
Introduction The Rose-Hulman Civil Engineering Department began to use client-based projects for the capstone design experience in 1988. Initially, the project sponsors included the campus facilities department and Rose-Hulman alumni companies. However, confidence in the course structure and the student’s designs increased after a few years, and the range of clients, type of projects, and location of client companies began to expand. In fact, project solicitation is rare; more project requests come in each year than can be fulfilled.
The client-based projects are vetted and teams are selected early in the academic year. Project proposals by potential clients are received in August. The best projects are retained based on scope of work, variation in civil engineering disciplines, and faculty and client interest. Students vote on their top five choices based on project abstracts during the first week of class (more projects are available than teams). Teams of four are selected by the faculty based on student interest and team considerations.
The capstone design experience lasts a full year. The projects commence with a client meeting and a site visit. Full proposals to the client are due in the middle of the fall quarter. This provides students with a proposal writing experience and clarifies the project for the student team and the client. Progress reports are due in the middle of the winter quarter. These reports include data collection efforts, mapping, soil testing, codes and regulations research, design alternatives, and alternative evaluations. This sets the team up for the final design process. Final
Hanson, J., & Houghtalen, R., & Houghtalen, J., & Johnson, Z., & Lovell, M., & Van Houten, M. (2006, June), Our First Experience With International Senior Design Projects – Lessons Learned Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/510
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