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Progress Report: The Development of High Performance Capstone Project Teams and the Selection Process

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Teams and Teamwork in Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1187.1 - 22.1187.13



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Paper Authors


Stephen W. Laguette University of California, Santa Barbara

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Stephen Laguette is currently a Lecturer at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the College of Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) and the Technology Management Program and is responsible for the undergraduate ME Capstone Design program. He received his B.S., M.S. in ME from the University of California, Los Angeles. His professional career has included executive Research and Development management positions with a number of medical device companies. He has been responsible for the creation of complex medical devices with over fifteen U.S. patents issued in a variety of surgical fields. He has been responsible for the identification of new technologies and the review of new business opportunities. His responsibilities have included transitioning projects into development and potential commercialization. He has identified and successfully created research programs with leading academic institutions and formed strategic alliances with other high technology companies. He is currently serving as a Director with the Design in Engineering Education Division (DEED) for the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). His academic interests include Capstone design and the development of high performance student teams. He also remains active in the field of medical devices as a consultant for new ventures and investment firms.

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Progress Report – The Development of High Performance Capstone Project Teams and the Selection ProcessAbstractThe development of high performance Capstone project teams and the team formation processhas previously been reported1 but only provided information regarding initial experience and didnot include year-end student project results. This paper is intended to provide a more completereport of the results and the continued evolution of the process and the design program.A successful Capstone Design program including companion design courses has beendeveloped2,3 that has become an integral and important component of the MechanicalEngineering curriculum. A variety of challenging projects are created each year to appeal tostudent academic and career interests. Students work in teams with the assistance of a facultyadvisor to tackle a significant mechanical engineering design project. The formation of studentteams can be a challenging and time consuming process that is critical to the success of thedesign project and the course experience. Attention continues to be focused upon the formationof student teams and the selection process in the hopes of developing high performance studentteams.Successful student teams should include enthusiastic, motivated and engaged students as theymust address the project over the academic year of the Fall, Winter and Spring quarters. Thestudent team should also include satisfactory skills, technical or academic expertise required foreach project. As previously reported1, by including student preferences in the team formationprocess and careful assessment of student strengths and weaknesses, the development of a highperformance Capstone project team is more likely to occur.This paper will address the experiences and the continued evolution of project team formationand the student selection process. It has now evolved to include an online process that allows thestudent to identify individual preferred project selections. The process also includes the ability tocapture individual student academic and career interests as well as the expertise that may beoffered towards the project and team.Typical class size is between 68 and 110 senior ME students resulting in 14 to 22 projects andteams each year. The Capstone projects include Industry Partnered, Research Partnered, StudentCompetitions, and Independently created projects. The Capstone projects reflect the technicalexpertise of the department and faculty including solid mechanics, structures, materials,dynamics, systems and control, robotics, fluid mechanics, thermal sciences, computationalscience, and nanotechnology. Projects are created each year that vary in the type and the level oftechnical challenges to be addressed by the student teams.This selection and team formation process has created a positive environment for highperformance teams to flourish. A summary of the first year of experience and the in-progressresults for the second year will be presented.

Laguette, S. W. (2011, June), Progress Report: The Development of High Performance Capstone Project Teams and the Selection Process Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18460

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