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Usma Regionalized Drinking Water Treatment Facility Multidiscipline Capstone

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.1127.1 - 6.1127.6



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Paper Authors

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Steven Hart

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Ronald Welch

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

Session 2793

USMA Regionalized Drinking Water Treatment Facility Multidiscipline Capstone

Ronald W. Welch, Steven D. Hart United States Military Academy


Last spring, 95 civil (CE) and environmental (EV) engineering majors in the ABET-accredited CE and EV programs at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) worked on a multidisciplinary capstone project to design a regionalized drinking water treatment facility for West Point and surrounding communities. This paper assesses the project through student comments and instructor evaluations. The one-semester project responded to a real community need. The environmental engineers determined the treatment process type, treatment basin size, and treatment stream layout in plan and elevation. The civil engineers performed structural design of the treatment tanks, layout and design of the structure surrounding the treatment stream, and overall site analysis and design. The students quickly realized that their counterpart group (CE or EV), not the instructor, was the primary contact for key information beyond the client’s concerns and needs. Students in both groups often found themselves waiting on the other group to complete work before they could proceed. While frustrating, they experienced the intricacies of multidisciplinary problem solving. In a typical class design project, students are provided a floor plan, a primary construction material, and specifications that allow them to focus on the technical aspects of the design. In this capstone project, students were responsible for defining the problem themselves (i.e., construction materials and building layouts) before they could complete the design.

A significant challenge was that the CE and EV students were in two different courses meeting at different times with different instructors. Accordingly, due dates were coordinated and class schedules adjusted such that both groups were learning the required skills and submitting assignments to support each others’ design efforts. Some of the many insightful comments were that the final design revolves around the customer’s desires, not the designers, and that the groups must be fully integrated with the CE/EV students working on the same team, submitting the same report, and receiving the same grade.

I. Introduction

The ABET-accredited Civil Engineering Major at West Point (USMA) consists of a common core of 25 courses in science, mathematics, and humanities taken by all students, regardless of major, and 18 discipline-specific courses in mathematics, science, and engineering. The Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering administers the CE Major, while the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering administers the EV Major (also ABET-accredited). A significant strength of the major is that it is a program of 18 inter-related courses each of which builds on knowledge acquired in previous courses. The culmination of the CE program is CE492, Design of Structural Systems, that everyone calls “The Capstone”.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Hart, S., & Welch, R. (2001, June), Usma Regionalized Drinking Water Treatment Facility Multidiscipline Capstone Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9987

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