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Revising A Civil And Environmental Engineering Capstone Design Course

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.862.1 - 6.862.10



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Paper Authors

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Kauser Jahan

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Douglas Cleary

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

Session 3151

Revising a Civil and Environmental Engineering Capstone Design Course Douglas B. Cleary, Kauser Jahan Rowan University


The current paper describes the development and subsequent revision of the capstone design course for civil and environmental engineering students at Rowan University. Students take the course in both the fall and spring terms of their senior year. The course challenges and allows the students to demonstrate the engineering skills they have acquired through the undergraduate curriculum. The course was developed following a review of other capstone courses described in literature. Open-ended design projects are developed with assistance from industry advisors and presented to the students at the start of the course. The students then spend two semesters preparing solutions to the problems. The first year the course was offered went much as expected based on the instructors’ previous experiences. Students complained of vague instructions, too much work, and lack of experience. However, additional student concerns with fairness and inequitable workloads were expressed. Refinements to the project selection process and course administration were made to address these concerns.

1. Introduction

The relative newness of the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at Rowan University offers many opportunities to study how other programs prepare engineering students and to revise and adopt the best practices of these programs. Two faculty members developed the capstone design course following a review of capstone courses offered by other programs. They also drew on their own previous experiences with similar courses and their experiences in industry. The Civil Engineering Design Project is the culminating design experience for the graduating seniors. The Design Project is a sequence of two 2-credit hour courses during the senior year. The senior civil and environmental engineering students work in teams of 4 or 5 students to solve an open-ended design project. Local engineering firms provide the projects and representatives from these firms participate in the evaluation process. The projects are either current projects the firms are working on simultaneously or are projects the firms have already completed. Students must prepare engineering plans, specifications, cost estimates, and written and oral project reports. Because the course extends over two semesters, an attempt is made place issues such information collection, planning and preliminary or concept design during the first semester with more detailed design during the second term.

The Design Project course was designed with the ABET 2000 criteria (ABET, 1999) and the concerns of industry in mind. Some of these concerns include lack of team skills, poor written and oral communication, lack of ability to consider alternatives, inability to synthesize components into a system, and weakness in economic analysis 1-7.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Jahan, K., & Cleary, D. (2001, June), Revising A Civil And Environmental Engineering Capstone Design Course Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9749

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