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Start Earlier, Prepare Better: An Engineering Senior Seminar Course

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Capstone Design I

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1071.1 - 14.1071.11



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Paper Authors


Ding Yuan Colorado State University, Pueblo

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Ding Yuan received the B.S. degree in industrial automation from Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, Liaoning, China, in 1998 and the Ph.D degree in Electrical Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ, in 2006. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Engineering at Colorado State University-Pueblo

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Nebojsa Jaksic Colorado State University, Pueblo Orcid 16x16

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NEBOJSA I. JAKSIC received the Dipl. Ing. degree in electrical engineering from Belgrade University in 1984, the M.S. in electrical engineering, M.S. in industrial engineering, and Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the Ohio State University in 1988, 1992, and 2000, respectively.

From 1992 to 2000 Dr. Jaksic was with DeVry University in Columbus, OH. In 2000, he joined Colorado State University-Pueblo, where he is currently an Associate Professor and the mechatronics program director. Dr. Jaksic's interests include manufacturing processes, automation, and nanotechnology education and research. He is a member of ASEE, IEEE, SME, and MRS.

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Jane Fraser Colorado State University, Pueblo

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JANE M. FRASER was on the faculty at Purdue and Ohio State University before moving to Colorado State University-Pueblo in 1998 where she is chair of the Department of Engineering. She holds BA, MS, and PhD degrees.

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

Start Earlier, Prepare Better: An Engineering Senior Seminar Course


This paper describes a seminar course offered to senior engineering students to prepare them for their senior design projects and to prepare them for their future professional careers.

Most undergraduate curricula, especially in the field of engineering, include senior design as one of the capstone courses. Successful senior projects demonstrate the knowledge and problem- solving abilities of students as well as professionalism through the reports, posters, presentations, etc. For many traditional students, the senior design may be their first “real” project, thus students need a set of guidelines for engineering projects and they need preparation for their first milestone as professionals. Therefore, a part of this course covers the topics of defining a project, writing technical documents (e.g. proposals and reports), and preparing and delivering oral presentations. Students follow a general guideline and submit a proposal for their senior design projects to be completed in the following semester. Accordingly, a formal presentation is also required.

The other set of topics comes from the fact that most students enrolled in this course will graduate within one year and, hereby, require development of their personal and professional skills, both short term skills (e.g. resume writing, job searching, and interviewing skills) as well as long term skills (e.g. graduate study, intellectual property, entrepreneurship, and professional skills) for life after graduation. For example, as part of the short term goal, we invite a professional from the campus career center to introduce students to the job market, job hunting skills and the corresponding services the university offers. For the long term goal, class discussion plays a key role since it not only improves students’ communication skills, but also helps them understand their professional and ethical responsibilities as engineers.

The connections of this senior seminar course with the follow-up senior design course, assessment methods, and ABET outcomes are also addressed.


In recent years, the fast-paced, competitive working environment required that the new graduates from colleges and universities transform from students to professionals within a short period of time. Evidence of this trend is that more and more employers in industry seek graduating seniors who are qualified in both “hard” and “soft/professional” engineering skills so that they can fit into the new positions without a long training session. The terms “hard” and “soft/professional” are used by Shuman et al.1 to classify the outcomes in ABET accreditation Criterion 32 (See Table 1). According to Shuman et al.1, the outcomes related to the problem-solving ability are categorized as “hard” skills, which include Outcome 3.a, 3.b, 3.c, 3.e and 3.k, while the other six outcomes in Criterion 3 belong to “soft/professional” skills. Such a demand from industry

Yuan, D., & Jaksic, N., & Fraser, J. (2009, June), Start Earlier, Prepare Better: An Engineering Senior Seminar Course Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4680

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