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A Blank Slate: Creating a New Senior Engineering Capstone Experience
  • Mark L. Chang, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
  • Jessica Townsend, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
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This paper presents some of the challenges, successes, and experiences in designing a new senior engineering capstone program at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. Senior capstone design programs in engineering colleges have evolved over many years and are often modified and reinvented to keep up with the needs of both students and external constituencies. Harvey Mudd College’s Clinic program is one of the largest and longest-running capstone programs in the country that relies heavily on industry sponsors to provide real world problems and funding to execute the projects. For many reasons, and in no small way because of its track record of success, our own capstone course offering is modeled closely upon the Harvey Mudd Clinic program.

However, completely importing a well-established program into a different context would be haphazard at best, and would ignore a unique opportunity to retool the program to meet the specific needs of a different college. This paper presents our experience in developing SCOPE, the Senior Consulting Program for Engineering at Olin College, and applying lessons learned from the Clinic Program and other successful capstone programs. We discuss the difficulties such as recruiting industry sponsors for a new and unproven program, developing assessment methodologies, and developing the policies and procedures needed to keep the program running smoothly and in a sustainable fashion. Through this narrative, the authors endeavor to inform other programs that are in need of modification, and educators who find themselves with the opportunity to start a capstone program from the ground up.


© 2008 ASEE. This article was published in the Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition 2008, and may be found here.

Citation Information
Mark L. Chang and Jessica Townsend. "A Blank Slate: Creating a New Senior Engineering Capstone Experience" (2008)
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