New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT) Department of Civil Engineering has featured year-long capstone projects for outside clients since 1988. The program had remained essentially the same over that time until 2011. A course instructor was responsible for all of the groups’ work and each team was assigned a faculty member as coach. The projects have always been real projects for clients with real needs.
Early in capstone projects, the groups’ work often required the expertise of a faculty member to mentor field and lab work even though that faculty member was not the team coach or course instructor. The field and lab work can be of lesser quality because the teams failed to adequately use the faculty expert to plan their work. Later, during project design, the sub-discipline design required on each project was not always mentored by a faculty expert, especially if the faculty expert was not the instructor or team coach. Because group members were not directly accountable in grading to the faculty expert, student design submissions were sometimes of lower quality, submitted late, and/or required substantial revision at the end of the year. These circumstances demanded last-minute effort from both students and faculty experts that resulted in a delayed or incomplete submission of the final project.
In industry, civil engineering consultants form design teams comprised of engineer experts from multiple sub-disciplines. Each expert works in an administrative structure that allows them to work with other experts in their own sub-discipline and with a senior mentor throughout the project. To emulate this, the civil engineering program at RHIT reorganized its capstone design for the 2012-13 academic year to ensure shared learning and collaboration within technical sub-disciplines under a faculty expert. This model is now in its fourth year with the 2015-16 academic year. Assessment of the new model by faculty members indicates significantly improved student learning, earlier completion of design work, and better emphasis on the balance between expectations of each sub-discipline expert and their role in meeting the needs of the project. The new senior design process, which consists of department-wide responsibility for student learning and course facilitation, is a great improvement over existing traditional approaches.
Sutterer, K. G., & Aidoo, J., & Chapman, J. R., & Hanson, J. H., & Kershaw, K., & Lovell, M. D., & Marincel Payne, M., & Mueller, J., & Robinson, M. (2016, June), Shared Capstone Project Mentoring for Improved Learning Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26178
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