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Transforming the CREDLE (Capstone Research Experience for Distance Learning Executives)

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Revitalization of Manufacturing Education

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Malini Natarajarathinam Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Malini Natarajarathinam is an Associate professor with Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution. She teaches classes on strategic relationships for industrial distribution, distribution information systems and new directions in Industrial Distribution. She is also the founding faculty and advisor for the Society of Women in Industrial Distribution (SWID). She works on many service learning projects with her students where they work with many local community agencies.

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Bimal P. Nepal Texas A&M University

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Dr. Bimal Nepal is an Associate Professor in the Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M University. His research interests include integration of supply chain management with new product development decisions, distributor service portfolio optimization, pricing optimization, supply chain risk analysis, lean and six sigma, and large scale optimization. He has authored 30 refereed articles in leading supply chain and operations management journals, and 40 peer reviewed conference proceedings articles in these areas. He has B.S. in ME, and both M.S. and Ph.D. in IE. He is a member of ASEE, INFORMS, and a senior member of IIE.

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Manoj Vanajakumari Texas A&M University

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Ismail Capar Texas A&M University

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In today’s changing world, professionals need to be content experts, as well as highly skilled problem solvers, team players, and lifelong learners (Dunlap & Grabinger, 2003). These professionals also need to be taught with the industry needs in mind. Ignoring this will produce graduates who are not meeting the changing needs of the industry. A real time project based learning approach is very useful to satisfy the two primary goals - lifelong learning and syncing with current industry needs. However, the challenges are many folds while doing a capstone project via distance education. We develop an approach where the student work on defining a research problem based on their experience at work, in consultation with their top level executives in the company such that it represents the management priority. The instructor plays a key role in defining the research question as it needs to measure all the skills and competencies that the student has developed during the course of the problem, and at the same time be able to produce something useful to industry needs. The yearlong project is executed in two consecutive semesters. In those semesters the students take other courses. Hence, defining the scope of the project, managing the expectations of the sponsors and yet not losing the relevance of the project is a challenge. The instructor should ensure that the student achieve all major milestones of the project in a timely manner. In this paper, we discuss the methodology to create the content, set up the deliverables to make sure the student stays engaged with the course and assessments to evaluate the student on their level of competencies. The challenges increase when the number of students in the online class increases. Advising 10-11 online graduate level capstone projects makes it challenging for the instructor to advise and manage. The plan for the course shows how the course is structured effectively to be used for large classroom. The paper also discusses the mechanics of project management that are employed in managing the capstone project while enhancing the research capability and experience of the students.

Dunlap, J. C. and Grabinger, S. (2003), Preparing Students for Lifelong Learning: A Review of Instructional Features and Teaching Methodologies. Perf. Improvement Qrtly, 16: 6–25. doi: 10.1111/j.1937-8327.2003.tb00276.x

Natarajarathinam, M., & Nepal, B. P., & Vanajakumari, M., & Capar, I. (2016, June), Transforming the CREDLE (Capstone Research Experience for Distance Learning Executives) Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27078

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