Selection Criteria for Cornerstone and Capstone Design Projects

Patrick Little and Joseph King
Engineering Department, Harvey Mudd College
301 E. 12th Street, Claremont, CA 91711, USA
E-mail: Patrick_Little@HMC.Edu

While many engineering programs have long offered capstone design courses, more are beginning to offer a cornerstone introductory project-based course as well. At Harvey Mudd College, this has been the accepted practice for almost 40 years. This paper presents the considerations used in selecting projects for both the introductory course and the capstone Clinic Program, and notes the key differences and similarities in selecting projects. Both programs use actual clients from outside the college, and both expect the students to learn aspects of professional practice beyond intellectual techniques and skills. In both cases, the key to selecting successful projects is to focus on the ability of the students to perform the project, and the relationship of the project to `real-world’ engineering.


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