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Tracking Capstone Course Performance in a Database that is used to Track Accreditation Documentation

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Green Renewable Energy and Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1368.1 - 25.1368.7



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Paper Authors


Wesley L. Stone Western Carolina University

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Wes Stone is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering and Technology at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Texas, Austin, master's degree from Penn State, and Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, all in mechanical engineering. His research interests include manufacturing processes, quality techniques, and gas turbine technology.

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Chip W. Ferguson Western Carolina University

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Chip W. Ferguson is completing his 10th year at Western Carolina University, where he has served as an Associate Professor, Program Director, and Assistant Department Head in the Department of Engineering and Technology. He is currently serving as the Interim Department Head and continues to teach several courses in the department. Ferguson has more than five years of industrial experience designing and building electro-mechanical and hydrostatic power systems. Additionally, he has completed several significant industrial, medical, and governmental applied research projects working individually and with other faculty, students, and the Center for Rapid Product Realization at Western.

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Tracking Capstone Course Performance in a Database That is used to Track Accreditation Documentation _______________ University is a regional comprehensive institution withapproximately 9,000 students. Nearly 200 of those students are undergraduates majoringin Engineering Technology (ET), which places a heavy emphasis on preparing itsgraduates for employment primarily in the manufacturing sector. The ET program at_____ is an on-campus program that is accredited through the technology commission ofthe Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET-TAC). While thisaccreditation has been maintained for several decades, it has become more challenging inrecent years to effectively and efficiently track the documentation needed to validate thestatus of the ET program. The most recent ABET visit generated many notebooks filled with copies ofreports, homeworks, exams, and rubrics, all supporting the efforts of the ET faculty todeliver a quality program to its students. Many of these copies were generated in thesenior project capstone course, a two-semester sequence where students work in teams todesign, build, and test a prototype for an external customer, typically a regionalmanufacturing company. Despite the valiant efforts to keep documentation organized,the sheer volume of paperwork often became cumbersome and challenging to navigate. This year a Microsoft Access database has been developed to enter grades andcomments for each senior project team, as they complete each gate in their capstonecourse sequence. The data are compiled through a series of queries and reports tomeasure the teams individually and in aggregate against a standardized rubric. Since thesenior capstone course sequence is used for a large number of the performance indicatorsto support the ET program outcomes, the implementation of this database is proving to bea powerful tool. In addition to housing the performance data for the student teams, thedatabase also contains hyperlinks to the additional supporting documentation which ishoused on a network server. Being in a pilot phase, it is recognized that training is stillneeded to get faculty and staff familiar with Microsoft Access, and this specific database.It is hoped that this database can be used over the next several years to effectivelyorganize the documentation necessary for the next ABET visit, while reducing the reamsof paper used in the process.

Stone, W. L., & Ferguson, C. W. (2012, June), Tracking Capstone Course Performance in a Database that is used to Track Accreditation Documentation Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22125

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