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Success Factors in a Project-Based Industrial Engineering Senior Design Capstone Course

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Industrial Engineering Division Technical Session 1

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Alison Linares Mendoza University of Pittsburgh


Renee Clark University of Pittsburgh

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Renee Clark is Research Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering and Director of Assessment for the Engineering Education Research Center (EERC) in the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She conducts education research that focuses on active learning and engineering professional development. Renee's current research includes the use of adaptive learning and systematic reflection in the mechanical engineering flipped classroom to drive pre-class preparation and metacognitive development, respectively. She received the Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and the MS in Mechanical Engineering from Case Western. She has 30 years of experience as an engineer, IT analyst, and researcher in industry and academia. She completed her post-doctoral studies in engineering education at the University of Pittsburgh.

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The focus of our research is a project-based Industrial Engineering senior design capstone course. Project-based learning in engineering courses, including the capstone course, provides an opportunity for students to apply the body of knowledge in their respective disciplines and further prepare them to begin their careers in the professional practice of engineering. In addition, these courses provide an opportunity for students to improve their ability to function effectively on a team. Current research explores the key factors that affect outcomes in capstone design courses. However, few, if any, investigate the association between course attributes (factors) and course outcomes. The current literature focuses on factors or models of implementation without emphasizing how those factors could impact the overall course or student success. There exists an opportunity to more comprehensively study the factors related to specific disciplines and Industrial Engineering in particular. This paper summarizes an initial investigation into the significance of key factors that affect outcomes in an Industrial Engineering senior design capstone course. As a discipline, Industrial Engineering is more focused on the design of processes and systems and less on the design of products or construction of physical structures, as might be the focus of a Mechanical Engineering or Civil Engineering capstone course. This research provides initial insights into the factors that affect outcomes in a project-based Industrial Engineering senior design course. Survey data collected before and after two semesters of an Industrial Engineering senior design capstone course serve as the basis of the summary data. In this paper, we focus on student preferences of project topics before the start of the course as a key factor and the corresponding perception of the course at its conclusion as measures of the course outcome. While left for our ongoing research and data collection, the following are examples of factors that we plan to evaluate for potential significance to course outcomes: measures of team dynamics collected during peer evaluations throughout the semester; student personality traits determined by a DiSC® assessment completed by each student; student preferences for subject areas and team composition as compared to the project to which they were assigned; self-assessments of skill levels within a particular topic; previous work experience; and prior coursework including areas of concentration and elective courses completed. In addition, we also plan to investigate factors related to the project itself, such as the project topic and technical relevance to the field of Industrial Engineering. Data used to define these and other factors are collected primarily via surveys explicitly designed for the course. At the time of this paper, the population of responses associated with some key factors was not sufficient to include and, thus, is not presented here. However, we recommend exploring these factors in future research. A review of the recent literature on industrial engineering capstone courses and success factors in capstone courses, in general, is included to discuss existing research results related to these types of success factors in our research.

Sherwin, M., & Linares Mendoza, A., & Clark, R. (2022, August), Success Factors in a Project-Based Industrial Engineering Senior Design Capstone Course Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41365

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