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Senior Design As A Transition From Academia To Industry

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Capstone Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1103.1 - 10.1103.8



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Paper Authors

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Steven Reyer

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Stephen Williams

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Owe Petersen

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

Session 2425

Senior Design as a Transition from Academia to Industry Stephen M. Williams, Steven E. Reyer, Owe G. Petersen Milwaukee School of Engineering


In its eighteenth year, the Electrical Engineering Senior Design course sequence at the Milwaukee School of Engineering has evolved from an engineering-focused course set, to one with design at the center of a process focused on fostering professional growth. Successful design is treated as the natural outcome of a combination of technical preparation and a set of professional skills. As a result, the student grows from an academic individual to a professional one, accomplished in working with business and industry methods. The changes have been made in response to changes in the students and their needs as graduates.

In the nine-month experience, the first portion focuses on team building, leadership development, problem identification and certification, and design feasibility determination, through differing communications requirements. In the latter parts of the course sequence, in parallel with the technical aspects of the design project, the setting of milestones, managing the project, and performing and documenting engineering work are augmented by key professionalism topics. These span the range from “selling oneself” and selling the project concept, to considering global competition concerns.

Our “course within a course” style also includes guest specialists working with the students on topics such as safety, ethics, standards, resume and interviewing techniques, and even professional behavior. A “trade show” with a prototype and poster competition completes the course’s professional experiences. Employer response to the efforts has been very positive and encouraging.

I. Introduction

Throughout the Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (EE) program at MSOE, design is strongly integrated into many courses. These projects are generally short-term, and involve individual or two-student teams. The projects lead to the major capstone design experience, Senior Design, which is a three-quarter course sequence: EE-407/8/9. While all EE students are required to take this course sequence, often interdisciplinary projects are undertaken, and the teams can include other engineering students: computer, mechanical, software, etc. Over the 18 years of the existence of this course, it has evolved due to changes in employer needs, student traits, technology, and the faculty’s understanding of the needs of the graduates.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Reyer, S., & Williams, S., & Petersen, O. (2005, June), Senior Design As A Transition From Academia To Industry Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14231

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