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Using Performance Reviews In Capstone Design Courses For Development And Assessment Of Professional Skills

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Capstone Design III

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1349.1 - 13.1349.11



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Paper Authors


Greg Kremer Ohio University-Athens

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Dr. Kremer is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Ohio University. He teaches in the Mechanical Design area and has primary responsibility for the Capstone Design Experience. His main research interests are Energy and the Environment, especially as related to vehicle systems, and engineering education, especially related to integrated learning and professional skills. Dr. Kremer received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 1989, his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 1998, and has five years of experience as a Mechanical Design Engineer at General Electric Aircraft Engines.

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David Burnette Ohio University

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David Burnette was both an undergraduate student who participated in the OU ME Sr. capstone design project, and an OU ME graduate student who helped compile the student comments and complete the literature search for this study. He is currently an employee of the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



In addition to completing a challenging technical curriculum, engineering graduates must demonstrate teamwork, communication, and other professional skills including professional and ethical responsibility, life-long learning, and understanding the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context. Unless these outcomes are integrated into students' conceptions of being a "successful engineer" (getting a job and advancing their career), they will be under- valued and under-developed. This project demonstrates the use of industry-modeled 360° performance reviews in a team-based capstone project to link professional skills with an integral "engineering identity" to enhance how students value and develop professional skills. An important component of this work is the development of a taxonomy of professional skills outcomes for mechanical engineers that are understandable to undergraduate engineering students and that are linked to the ABET professional skills outcomes. The study found that by framing the creation of a taxonomy of professional skills as a learning process, students gained an appreciation for the importance of the “professional skills” and a sufficient ability to identify what those “professional skills” look like in practice. Also, the integration of student-defined professional skills and subsequent discussion within a senior capstone course resulted in a relatively complete and mature list of skills and descriptions of performance levels that strongly matches expectations from industry. Additionally, involving students in the creation and implementation of the taxonomy of professional skills gives them ownership in the process and ensures they will understand them and be able to rate themselves and their teammates with respect to the professional skills. Several years of experience with the performance review methodology indicates that students can develop a thorough and meaningful list of professional skills and demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of professional skills, an ability to self evaluate relative to an individual area for improvement, and an ability to develop and complete a performance improvement plan for a specific professional skill. We propose that this is an authentic way to demonstrate achievement of the ABET professional skills outcomes.

Literature Search

Traditional methods of educating engineers have come under considerable criticism in the past two decades. Studies have found shortcomings in what was once the standard engineering curriculum. In 1994, a report released by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) explained that, in addition to engineering fundamentals, an “understanding of the societal context of engineering” should be taught to students1. Explaining the role of engineering as an “integral process of societal change” had been put forward previously in a paper that encouraged educators to create an atmosphere that would allow students to “accept responsibility for civilization’s progress”2. The following year the National Science Foundation (NSF) pleaded for the introduction of courses that would address social or political concerns as well as legal and ethical issues in engineering3.

Kremer, G., & Burnette, D. (2008, June), Using Performance Reviews In Capstone Design Courses For Development And Assessment Of Professional Skills Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3640

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