Assessing Abet Outcomes Using Capstone Design Courses

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This paper presents a methodology fo r using capstone design project courses for assessing a number of ABET outcomes. In the advent of EC 2000, Engineering programs have grappled with methods for assessing some of the ABET outcomes, especially those skills which are not taught in the traditional engineering programs. Senior Design and Professionalism I and II are two capstone design courses taken by seniors in the College of Engineering over a two semester period. Each course is team-taught by professors in all the engineering departments consisting of Civil, Chemical, Electrical and Mechanical. Depending on the type of projects selected, student teams could be interdisciplinary, or discipline specific. The capstone design courses are used to assess eight of the eleven ABET a-k outcomes consisting of the ability to: design a system, function on multi-disciplinary teams, adhere to professional and ethical responsibilities, communicate, understand global and local impact of engineering solutions on society, engage in lifelong learning, have knowledge of contemporary issues, and use modern engineering tools for engineering practice. Students’ abilities in these outcomes are quantitatively measured using outcome specific project related lectures and assignments given throughout the semester. The methodology discussed in the paper has made it possible to identify problems encountered by students in these outcome skills, thereby, facilitating adjustment in course content and delivery, and formulation of plans to assist students to improve on these skills. The methodology also makes it possible to document students’ performance in these outcomes. The documentation is used to generate outcome specific binders of students’ work that are vital for ABET accreditation. Importance of Senior Design This course is important because it provides the student, an opportunity to practice design in a way that parallels what will be encountered in professional practice. Students are required to apply a systematic design process, incorporate engineering codes, standards, and realistic constraints that include economic; environmental; sustainability; manufacturability; ethical; health and safety; social; and political considerations in solving the design problem. In addition, Senior Design Project is the primary course used to satisfy ABET criterion 4 which requires students to be prepared for engineering practice through the curriculum culminating in a major design experience. The latter should be based on the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier course work and should incorporate appropriate engineering standards and multiple realistic constraints. Senior design is also used to satisfy outcome C of criterion 3. This outcome requires students to have the ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability. P ge 12261.2 Course Objectives and Anticipated Outcomes The goal of the two semester capstone design courses are to ensure the students have the necessary exposure to engineering design that broadens their abilities in eight of the eleven ABET “a” to “k” outcomes. The eight ABET outcomes taught and assessed in the course are: “c” an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs. “d” an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams. “f” an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility. “g” an ability to communicate effectively. “h” the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context. “i” a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in lifelong learning. “j” a recognition of contemporary issues. “k” an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice. The courses have eight main objectives, with each objective related to one of the eight “a” to “k” outcomes measured in the course, and having a number of anticipated outcomes. The first course objective is to teach students to design systems, components, and processes to meet a desired need by following a well defined design process. The anticipated outcomes for this objective are that students will (1) demonstrate the ability to apply the design process systematically in any design environment, (2) conduct research on the economical, global impact, ethical and technical aspects of the engineering design, and (3) have the knowledge to optimize engineering solutions and designs in accordance with technical and contemporary constraints. The second course objective is to teach students to function in a multidisciplinary design team. The anticipated outcomes for this objective are that students will (1) demonstrate team work through regular formal team meetings, project management, class presentations and a final design presentation, (2) gain appreciation of interdisciplinary projects involving students from other engineering disciplines. The third course objective is to teach students to understand professional and ethical responsibilities of the engineer. The anticipated outcomes for this objective are that students will be able to differentiate between ethical and legal issues and how these are related to their design projects. The fourth course objective is teach students to become proficient in written, oral, and technical communication. The anticipated outcomes for this objective are that students will be able to write a standard formal technical report with particular attention to the proper conventions for formatting, labeling of figures and tables, reference citation and listing, proper presentation of the technical content of the report, and techniques for oral presentation. The fifth course objective is teach students the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solution in a global and societal context. The anticipated outcomes for this Page 12261.3 objective are that students will be able to analyze the impact of the their design and engineering solutions in general on society, both locally and globally. The sixth course objective is teach students to recognize the need for, and the ability to engage in life long learning. The anticipated outcomes for this objective are that students will be able to review the literature for concepts not covered in the curriculum but needed for the successful design of their projects and be self learners. The seventh course objective is teach students to be abreast with contemporary issues. The anticipated outcomes for this objective are that students will be in the habit of reading engineering magazines, journals, and other national magazines such as Newsweek to be appraised of contemporary issues. The eighth course objective is teach students the use of techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools to complete a final design project. The anticipated outcomes are that students are able to use a systematic design process and modern engineering tools such as solid modeling, ANSYS, TRYNSIS, ADAMS, Microsoft Projects, and other Engineering Equation Solvers and software in their design. Project Selection Criteria The senior design courses are intended to provide capstone design experience. The courses draw on the students’ skills and knowledge gained from previous years of coursework in mathematics, sciences, engineering science and design. The senior design project should be sufficient in scope and technical content to demonstrate the students’ technical competence in their major area of study. The successful completion of senior design project is indicative of the students’ preparedness to pursue professional practice of engineering. The following guidelines are provided in the Senior Design Projects Manual to help faculty and project sponsors identify suitable senior project topics: • The project should emphasize design, experimentation and/or hands-on skills. • The project should offer opportunity for creativity. • The project should allow teamwork among seniors in one or more majors. • The project should be of sufficient complexity to allow each team member to contribute about 150 hours in class time and 150 hours outside class. • The project should draw on the students’ skills and knowledge gained from previous years of coursework. • The project should incorporate engineering standards and realistic constraints that include most of the following: economic; environmental; sustainability; manufacturability; ethical; health and safety; social; and political. • The project schedule should be limited to eight months (Early September to End of April) • The project should have concrete and measurable goals. Projects involving only collection of published materials are unacceptable and projects involving classified materials should be avoided. P ge 12261.4 Generic Timetable for Major Project Milestones The senior design project sequence begins in the Fall semester and ends by the end of April the following Spring semester. A guideline is, therefore, needed to ensure that the various sections of the project design sequence are on schedule. Table 1 is a generic time table for major milestones in the senior design project sequence contained in the Project Manual. Separate schedules are provided for projects that begin in the Fall semester and in the Spring semester. The course instructors are strongly advised to ensure that the schedule is followed as closely as possible to ensure successful timely completion of the projects.