Capstone Design as Cornerstone for Project-Based Learning throughout the Curriculum

Barry Hyman, Roger Fales, Yuyi Lin, R. A. Winholtz
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of Missouri Columbia, MO 65211
Email: hymanb@missouri.edu

James Borgford-Parnell
Center for Engineering Learning & Teaching
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

I. Introduction
The goals of an NSF funded project in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) Department at the University of Missouri are to: (1) systematically increase project-based learning (PBL) experiences throughout the MAE curriculum; and (2) increase the prospects for industry adoption and commercialization of industry- sponsored and student-generated capstone design projects.
To accomplish these goals refinements to recent capstone design projects serve as the basis for PBL activities throughout the MAE curriculum. Once refinements are completed, they are synthesized into new versions of the original designs. Additional cycles of refinement and synthesis can be conducted as needed. This approach provides students with multiple opportunities to experience design iteration and refinement processes (a basis for market-ready innovation) that are seldom available to them in time-limited capstone courses. By providing these PBL refinement experiences in pre- capstone courses, students are better prepared for their capstone projects, and more aware of how their entire course of study relates to that culminating experience. This project involves offering two senior/graduate elective courses that make it feasible to systematically integrate PBL into the curriculum without requiring major curriculum reforms or new faculty resources. Simultaneously, capstone design projects are advanced further towards industry implementation and commercialization.

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