Albuquerque, New Mexico
June 24, 2001
June 24, 2001
June 27, 2001
6.1048.1 - 6.1048.10
The Use of “Superclients” in a Civil Engineering Capstone Design Class
Wilfrid A. Nixon Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research And Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 52242-1585
The capstone design class in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Iowa is a three-semester hour class, with an enrollment of between 30 and 50 students in recent years. In the ideal, this class should offer students the opportunity to demonstrate that their education has brought them to a point at which they can begin to contribute effectively in the workplace. However, finding a project that is sufficiently challenging presents a perennial challenge.
To address this issue, the class was changed in 1997 to allow local civil engineers to provide projects for the students. These local civil engineers served as “superclients” for the students, who worked on their projects in groups of five or six. Students were able to visit project sites and “kick the tires,” which substantially reduced student complaints that projects were not realistic. They also had the experience of interacting with clients who were not faculty.
While the approach creates some logistic difficulties, the benefits are substantial. The paper describes both, and reports on the problems and successes of this particular approach.
The capstone design class is a critically important part of any engineering curriculum. In the ideal, it offers students the opportunity to demonstrate that their educational experience has not been merely a disjoint collection of classes with only tenuous connections, but rather a well-founded continuum that has brought them to the point from which they can begin to be effective in the workplace. However, a perennial challenge for capstone classes is finding a project that is sufficiently challenging to present a complete test of a student’s education, yet also can be completed within a single semester (or at most, within two semesters).
“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2001, American Society for Engineering Education”
Nixon, W. (2001, June), The Use Of Superclients In A Civil Engineering Capstone Design Class Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. https://peer.asee.org/9954
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