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Systems Engineering and Capstone Projects

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Integrating Systems Engineering into the Capstone Project

Tagged Divisions

Systems Engineering and Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Fred J. Looft Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Prof. Looft earned his B..S, M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering at the University of Michigan. After a brief period on industry, he joined the faculty of WPI 1n 1980 where he is now a professor in the ECE department and a founder of, and Academic Head of the Systems Engineering program. His interests include projects based education, curriculum development, international study abroad programs and mentoring, and autonomous robotic systems..

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Systems Engineering (SE) principles are slowly being integrated into capstone design projects, both through direct inclusive approaches for local and national design competitions, as well as through direct capstone project advising and mentoring, and indirect focused course/curriculum offerings. Herein, an “engineering science” course developed specifically to address teaching essential SE topics, and including SE principles in capstone projects is described. This course, targeted at both third year students preparing for capstone projects, as well as first quarter seniors starting their capstone projects, was developed using an inverted classroom format where students viewed short videos and read key, topic specific papers and tutorials prior to class meetings, and then came to class where application specific problems were solved in engaging individual and team based settings. Further, all homework also focused on applying SE principles to the projects selected by individual or small teams of students to aid in their own project development efforts. I will present the motivation for this course, its structure/syllabus, a summary of course reviews, and recommendations based on how to improve the course, and similar courses, based on student input and first offering observations of what worked and could be improved in future offerings. Finally, student responses on the perceived value of including SE methods in capstone projects of all types, not just engineering, will be discussed.

Looft, F. J. (2016, June), Systems Engineering and Capstone Projects Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26003

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