International Capstone Immersion Experience: Senior Design in Mexico

Beshoy Morkos, Shraddha Joshi, Joshua Summers
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634-0921
Email: {bmorkos, shraddj, jsummer}@clemson.edu

Victor Mucino
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
West Virginia University Morgantown, WV 26506-6106
e-mail: victor.mucino@mail.wvu.edu

Introduction and Existing Capstone Programs
What is the likelihood engineers have to travel internationally or deal with professionals from different countries, with different cultures and languages as part of their job [1]? As industries are becoming more decentralized, engineering education is slowly adapting to this new paradigm. Programs such as international capstone design are developed to assist students in gaining valuable engineering design experience. This program replaced the existing semester long capstone design course with a six week design course taking place in Mexico. Within the program, students are to work in groups with other students from West Virginia University (WVU) and various Mexican universities to complete an engineering design project. This paper details the students’ experience in the program, provides the structure and organization of the class, and presents student feedback. Engineering design capstone programs provide students an opportunity to work as a team typically on an industry inspired or sponsored project [2- 7]. Traditional capstone programs consist of a design project provided to a student, or group of, and are given a duration to complete the project. Capstone design courses may involve professional engineers as sources for projects who, in turn, are a resource for evaluating student performance from a professional practice context [8-11].
The capstone design program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University (CU) has been a required part of the engineering curriculum for nearly four decades. All projects are industry sponsored and each is assigned three to five teams of four to five students per team. On average, students are expected to work ten to fifteen hours a week per team member on the project for well over 600 man-hours of work on the project total. The students receive a problem statement from the client and are expected to identify the problem constraints. Students must develop prototypes of their concept and validate it using virtual, empirical, and physical validation.
The mechanical engineering curriculum at WVU culminates with a two semester capstone design course that provides students an opportunity to implement previously acquired knowledge in science, technology [12]. The first course is an engineering design course which allows students to submit project designs and use instructor feedback for continual development. The second course acts as a capstone course by allowing students to form teams to compete in various engineering events. Students, working as a team, will be required to model, design, and validate their design. The students are evaluated on their design and their documentation abilities.

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