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Using Principles Of Design To Develop A Capstone Course

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Capstone Design I

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1401.1 - 11.1401.9



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Paper Authors


Alan Dutson Brigham Young University-Idaho

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Alan Dutson has been a faculty member of the department of mechanical engineering at BYU-Idaho since January of 2003. His areas of interest include engineering design, scale models, and active learning in engineering education.

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

Using Principles of Design to Develop a Capstone Course


Developing a senior-level capstone course is well-suited to the application of a structured design methodology. Specific “customer needs” that such a course should fill can come from ABET criteria, department objectives, and industry. Not only does such a structured approach help in identifying course content, but it also provides a means of measuring success. A design methodology that maps customer needs to specific metrics for a course provides an efficient assessment vehicle for verifying compliance with ABET outcomes and department objectives. This paper discusses how such a structured design approach can be used to design (or redesign) a capstone course in mechanical engineering.


The engineering design process is a powerful tool for creating solutions to customer needs. Although application of the design process is often limited to the creation of new products, it could serve as an effective problem-solving tool in many other situations. For example, Pauley et. al.1 proposed using the design process to aid in curriculum improvement at Penn State University. This paper presents an approach for applying the design process to the design (or redesign) of a senior capstone design course.

The author joined the mechanical engineering department faculty at Brigham Young University - Idaho in January of 2003. At that time BYU-Idaho had been a four-year university for less than three years (prior to that time the school had been a two-year institution known as Ricks College). As a consequence of the transition from a two-year college to a four-year university, many new junior and senior level courses were being developed, including courses in mechanical engineering. Among the new courses that were developed was a senior-level capstone design course. Although the structure of the course has appeared to serve the students and the project sponsors quite well thus far, a structured approach for determining the best format for the course was not followed. This paper illustrates how the design process could be applied to determine the best structure for such a course. Since the initial structure of the capstone course at BYU-Idaho has already been established, the process presented in this paper serves as a method to review and redesign the existing course structure.

The design process that is used throughout the paper is similar to that presented by Ulrich2 (see Figure 1). Details of each of the design steps are presented in the following sections.

Identify Establish Generate Select Test Set Final Customer Target Product Product Product Specifications Needs Specifications Concept Concept(s) Concep

Figure 1. Design Process, Adapted from Ulrich2.

Dutson, A. (2006, June), Using Principles Of Design To Develop A Capstone Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--498

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