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Simulating Real-World Work Experience in Engineering Capstone Courses

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

College Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1083.1 - 24.1083.13



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Paper Authors


Thomas H. DeAgostino Trine University, Innovation One

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After graduating from Michigan Technological University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1984, Thomas H. DeAgostino began his career as an automotive product engineer working at Ford Motor Company’s Heavy Truck Division. He held various product engineering positions before settling on structural and finite element analysis as his engineering passion.
In 1988, he transferred to Ford’s Engine Engineering Division performing finite element analysis on various engine components. In 1991, he left Ford Motor Company’s Engine Division for General Motors’ newly forming Powertrain Division, to work on automatic transmission torque converters. While at G.M., he obtained his M.S. in Engineering Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1995. After holding various positions in product engineering at G.M., he turned to teaching mathematics at Jackson (Michigan) Community College in 2007, and finally accepted a position at Trine University in 2009 as assistant professor of Design Engineering Technology. He was appointed Director of Trine University’s Innovation One, a technology and business incubator, which focuses on industry collaboration, in the summer of 2012. In addition to his responsibilities as Director, he also teaches machine design, and advises senior design capstone projects. His research interests include integration of industry and academia, and utilization of project based (experiential) learning to enhance the applicability of learning.

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Vukica M. Jovanovic Old Dominion University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jovanovic is currently serving as Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology Department, Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA. Prior to joining ODU's Engineering Technology Department Dr. Jovanovic was teaching at Trine University, Angola, Indiana at Design Engineering Technology Department. Before Trine, she was working as an instructor and a graduate research assistant at Product Lifecycle Management Center of Excellence at Purdue University. She also served as instructor in STEM Academic Boot Camp, Diversity Program. Prior to joining Purdue, Dr. Jovanovic worked as a faculty at University of Novi Sad at departments of Industrial Engineering and Management. Dr. Jovanovic received M.Eng. ( degree from University of Novi Sad, Serbia in Robotics, Mechatronics and Automation and M.Sc. (Magistar) degree in Production Systems Design, both at Department of Industrial Engineering. She received a PhD in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Purdue University. In addition, Dr. Jovanovic's scholarly publications include 50 journal articles and papers in conference proceedings, two technical reports, and seven poster presentations focusing on mechatronics, product identification, product lifecycle management, assembly systems, collaborative engineering, automation, and energy efficiency. She was active member of European Robotic Association EUROBOT, and currently serves as a co-advisor of ODU IEEE Car Team. She had internships in engineering services, aerospace, and power generation industries.

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M. Brian Thomas Trine University

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Simulating Real World Work Experience in Engineering Capstone CoursesAbstractThe current economic climate has resulted in a need for work-ready engineers and engineeringtechnologists who can fill positions in the advanced manufacturing sector. Statistics on the stateof US education indicate that approximately eight percent of manufacturers reported moderate toserious gaps in the availability of skilled manufacturing candidates. In addition, this skills gaphas negatively impacted their company’s ability to expand operations. There are additionallyabout five percent of manufacturing jobs which get unfilled even with the current unemploymentlevels. Industry needs graduates who are able to perform under the constraints of a workplacewhich require more competencies than can usually be offered in a typical engineeringcurriculum. Experiential learning and cooperative education provide students with the necessarytools and can simulate their future working environment. In this way, students can gaincompetencies which are highly sought by industry. Various studies have shown that manygraduates do have gaps related to their so called “soft skills” which are related to teamwork, timemanagement, working under pressure and tight deadlines. This paper will detail some of thenecessary elements required to make mechanical engineering and engineering technologycapstone courses to simulate real world work experience. In this way, future engineers candevelop their senior design prototypes in an industry-like project and become more “work-ready”. It presents a method whereby the senior design course is taught by a faculty withextensive industry experience. A panel of experts made up of other faculty from the departmentand industry provide feedback through a competition like project led by industry practitioners.The experiential learning techniques provide simulation of various learning experiences such as:problem based learning, critical thinking, collaborative learning and peer evaluation. Through theuse of situated cognition, and problem based, active learning, engineering techniques are blendedwith the sociological and psychological factors associated with engineering team projects. Thesenior engineering students take on the role of actual engineering job functions, on a demanding,continuous (24/7) basis for the entire school year or semester. These job functions come with allthe shortcomings and particular difficulties associated with those functions in the real world. Inorder to develop the interpersonal professional skills needed by industry, a methodology isexplained that allows the students to evolve socially as departments, while supporting them withinformation such as Tuckman’s stages of group development, Myers-Briggs type indication, andrecognition of the various personalities and issues arising when working in a cross-functional,team based environment. The course set-up results in engineering graduates that are notsurprised by the potential difficulties that may be encountered when ensconced in full-time,permanent engineering employment. The technique(s) presented in this paper were tailored to thetraditional roles of mechanical (design) engineers in the modern industrial setting, but can bereapplied to other engineering areas.Keywords: Industry competences, capstone courses, teamwork, project based learning

DeAgostino, T. H., & Jovanovic, V. M., & Thomas, M. B. (2014, June), Simulating Real-World Work Experience in Engineering Capstone Courses Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23016

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