The Citadel, USA
At most, if not all, colleges and universities in the US offering engineering and technology programs, a two-semester capstone design sequence is an integral part of the final year of the curriculum. This represents an attempt to help students transition from study to practice of engineering while providing program administrators a tool to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the program in terms of the ability of the students to integrate and utilize knowledge gained from classroom study to solve real-world problems. It has also become a crucial component in the ABET accreditation process and helps improve curriculum vitality in order to remain relevant in the rapidly changing world of technology. This paper describes one of the many practices of directing this two-semester design sequence from the author’s experience directing the course and/or serving as faculty advisor to students’ teams for the past eleven years at the Citadel’s department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. The narrative is not based on data-driven observations and conclusions, and thus, not intended to represent best practices to be adopted by every institution. Rather, it is the author’s intention to share many successes and pitfalls involving issues ranging from team composition and project selection to effective utilization of project management methods and other design considerations, such as ethics, testing, and manufacturability. Furthermore, several strategies for public dissemination of the projects are discussed including oral and poster presentation, professional societies sponsored competition, and industry/company feedback. It is hoped that the paper provides a model that may serve as an exemplar for other similar programs.
Engineering design, capstone sequence