June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Design in Engineering Education
12.1308.1 - 12.1308.17
Student Deliverables and Instruction for a Senior Design Program Course
Nearly all of the senior design courses at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) were project-only courses. The Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Engineering Technology all had students work on their projects with minimal instruction during the two semester course. Further, the students were only required to submit documentation at the end of each semester. The first semester’s documentation typically looked more like a proposal than a design, and the second semester’s reports often contained more sizzle than content. This level of documentation is not at all related to the documentation that students would be expected to deliver to their management or peers in industry, where format is dictated and content is paramount. Also, the instructors of a new multi-disciplinary senior design program realized that if they were to start adding instruction to the course, they would need to do so gradually to minimize any negative impressions students would have toward attending class (“There was no class lectures last semester”). This paper describes the background of the UNC Charlotte program before these curricular changes. It also describes the deliverable documents that students now submit as assignments. The results were an improved identification of project capabilities and requirements as measured using a published rubric.
Capstone design courses offer engineering students an opportunity to apply the skills they have learned throughout their undergraduate education to an applied engineering project. One of the main goals of the senior design course is to engage students in a project with real world implications that are similar to those they will face once the student enters the work force. In the past, nearly all of the senior design courses at UNC Charlotte encompassed student or faculty-generated projects. The course instructors provided minimal classroom instruction during the two-semester course and required minimal documentation at the end of each semester. This type of course format often leads to minimal student effort, minimal student output, and last-minute, end-of-semester document preparation. This should easily be seen as a shortcoming in any engineering curriculum.
A decision was made to integrate a multi-disciplinary senior design program that spans all of the departments within the College of Engineering at UNC Charlotte, based on the investigation of several university programs. The course instructors would form groups with three to four students containing diverse talents that would be representative of a typical engineering team in industry. Additionally, industry sponsors would be identified and incorporated into the program. These sponsors would be afforded the opportunity to initiate elective research projects in their respective areas of interest while working closely with seniors that the company may be interested in recruiting.
Conrad, J., & Hoch, D., & Skinner, F. (2007, June), Student Deliverables And Instruction For A Senior Design Program Course Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2535
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