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SE Capstone: A Pilot Study of 14 Universities to Explore Systems Engineering Learning and Career Interest through Department of Defense Problems

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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

SE Capstone Design Projects, Part I

Tagged Divisions

Systems Engineering and Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1277.1 - 22.1277.30



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Paper Authors


Elisabeth W. McGrath Stevens Institute of Technology

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Elisabeth McGrath is Senior Research Associate at Stevens Institute of Technology and Executive Director of the Stevens Center for Innovation in Engineering & Science Education, Hoboken, NJ.

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Susan Lowes Institute for Learning Technologies, Teachers College/Columbia University

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Susan Lowes, Ph.D., is Director of Research and Evaluation, Institute for Learning Technologies, Teachers College/Columbia University.

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Chris Jurado Stevens Institute of Technology

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Chris Jurado is involved in the development of research activities such as collection and analysis of data and publications as part of the National Science Foundation's Science Partnerships Program as well as in the implementation of capstone projects at the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE).
Prior to joining CIESE he was a practicing chemical engineer on water treatments, environmental management systems and quality assurance.
Chris received a in Chemical Engineering from University of Guayaquil, an Environmental Technology Certificate from the Swedish International Development Agency, and a M.E. in Engineering Management from Stevens Institute of Technology. He's currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Financial Engineering at Stevens.

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Alice F. Squires Stevens Institute of Technology

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Alice Squires has nearly 30 years of professional experience and is an industry and research professor in Systems Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in the School of Systems and Enterprises. She is a Primary Researcher for the Body of Knowledge and Curriculum to Advance Systems Engineering (BKCASE) and Systems Engineering Experience Accelerator projects. She has served as a Senior Systems Engineer consultant to Lockheed Martin, IBM, and EDO Ceramics, for Advanced Systems Supportability Engineering Technology and Tools (ASSETT), Inc. Alice previously served as a senior engineering manager for General Dynamics (GD), Lockheed Martin (LM) and as a technical lead for IBM. Alice is a lifetime member of Beta Gamma Sigma (Business), Tau Beta Pi (National Engineering), and Eta Kappa Nu (National Electrical Engineering) Honorary Societies and is an International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP) in both base and Acquisition (CSEP-Acq). She is in the process of completing her doctorate dissertation in “Investigating the Relationship Between Online Pedagogy and Student Perceived Learning of Systems Engineering Competencies” and her research interests include systems engineering competency development, systems thinking and systems engineering education. Alice is the Chair of the Systems Engineering Division of ASEE and has a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE). Alice received the Stevens Institute of Technology Provost’s Online Teaching Excellence Award in 2007.

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SE Capstone: A Pilot Study of 14 Universities to Explore Systems Engineering Learning and Career Interest through Department of Defense ProblemsThis paper will describe a research study whose goal is understand the impacts on studentlearning of and career interest in systems engineering through a series of pilot SystemsEngineering Capstone Experiences being implemented in eight civilian universities and sixservice academies. Sponsored by the Department of Defense Research & Engineering, theDoD’s chief technology office, the strategic goal addressed by this research is the developmentof systems engineering (SE) talent for future DoD and related industry workforce needs. A 45%growth is expected in SE jobs in the next decade 1 and there have been numerous studies andworkshops that have highlighted the shortfalls in both the number and capability of the SEworkforce. The July 2006 NDIA Task Force noted among the top five systems engineeringissues the lack of adequate, qualified SE human capital resources within Government andindustry for allocation on major programs 2. Consequently, new academic and career pathwaysare urgently needed to build the talent base required.Through a competitive application process, eight civilian universities with expertise in systemsengineering were selected to develop course materials and conduct a capstone experienceinvolving undergraduate and/or graduate students, and six service academies joined the project.A set of common assessments to measure student progress toward stated learning objectives(systems engineering competencies), were developed and are being administered to more than300 undergraduate and graduate students during the 2010-11 academic year. These studentassessments include: (1) pre- and post-surveys to gauge knowledge of systems engineering,interest in systems engineering careers, and awareness of a spectrum of Department of Defensesystems engineering problems; (2) a pre- and post- case study analysis of a systems engineeringproblem; and (3) required weekly student blog posts to measure student progress toward moresophisticated systems engineering analysis in the context of their own Capstone projects. Dataon course materials, course organization, customized assessments from participating universities,student demographics, and type of institution will also be collected and analyzed, as well assurveys from faculty, Department of Defense mentors, and industry representatives.The deliverables of this research will be: 1. Analysis of learning outcomes by principal investigators of individual pilot programs based on progress as of January 2011 and June 2011. 2. Compilation, synthesis and analysis of learning outcomes from the pilot programs for project periods through January 2011 and June 2011. 3. Recommendations based on the pilot programs that will inform the development of a larger scale-up effort to build capacity for SE learning nationwide.Recommendations for future research will also be discussed.1 Rosato, D., Braverman, B., & Jeffries, A. (2009, November). The 50 best jobs in America. Money, 88-96.2 National Defense Industrial Association Systems Engineering Division Task Group Report (2006, July). Top Five Systems Engineering Issues within Department of Defense and Defense Industry.

McGrath, E. W., & Lowes, S., & Jurado, C., & Squires, A. F. (2011, June), SE Capstone: A Pilot Study of 14 Universities to Explore Systems Engineering Learning and Career Interest through Department of Defense Problems Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18932

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