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Jeff Jackson Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Alabama

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  1. Electrical and Computer Engineering Capstone Design Experience at The University of Alabama: Challenges, Improvements and Future Directions Jeff Jackson Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Alabama

  2. Outline • Introduction • ABET program educational objectives • Transitioning to a two semester design course sequence • Curriculum changes to accommodate design course changes • Handling co-op and out-of-phase students • Funding and corporate involvement • ECE Advisory Committee role in capstone design • Current and future design project examples • Questions

  3. ABET Program Outcomes Assessed in Capstone Design • B. Design & conduct experiments, analyze & interpret data • C. Design a system, component, or process to meet needs • D. Function on multi-disciplinary teams • E. Identify, formulate, solve engineering problems • F. Professional and ethical responsibility • G. Communicate effectively • H. Broad education necessary for global and societal context • I. Need, and an ability to engage in life-long learning • J. Knowledge of contemporary issues

  4. Current Status • One semester design course • One course administrator and one technical advisor per design team • Heavy burden • Typical preliminary and critical design reviews “merged” into a single, mid-term, design review • Fragmentation of design process with “soft” skills coverage • Far removed from previous ethics, society and other “soft” skills coverage in the curriculum • Hard to incorporate meaningful “soft” components, at least early in the design process • Largely a time constraint

  5. Transitioning to a Two Semester Capstone Design Sequence • Making the transition seamless? • Must teach at lest one additional iteration of single course design, in parallel with two course design sequence • Course administrator’s role in second course may be minimal • Second level manager role • Coordination necessary to reduce probability of conflicting advise • Two semester design • More accurate industrial flow • Preliminary and critical design reviews • Incorporate more design review before design is fixed • Breakpoint between courses will be at the preliminary design review (or later) • Still under consideration

  6. Handling Co-op and Out-of-phase Students • Each capstone design course will be taught each term • Increases faculty load • Co-op students will be allowed to participate • Remotely • Option to join a new design group for second course experience • +/- in both cases

  7. Curriculum Changes to Accommodate Capstone Design • Based, in part, on student input • Part of full curriculum emphasis on “hands on” design • First capstone design course will be co-requisite with an ECE senior lecture/lab combination • Second capstone design course will have first capstone design course and ECE senior lecture/lab combination as prerequisites • IE203 – Engineering Economics will be deleted from ECE curriculum • Engineering Economics coverage will now be in the first of the two capstone design courses

  8. Funding and Corporate Involvement • Funding for capstone design teams is currently set at $500 per three student design team • Larger teams generally have a larger budget • Larger teams also introduce more test and integration issues • Department funded from engineering student equipment fee • Paid for by corporate donations • Some corporate sponsors are heavily involved in projects • Project definition, participation in design reviews and other presentations • Primary motivation: Students to hire after graduation • Corporate sponsors also have recruiting and/or IEEE events scheduled • New capstone design lab paid for by corporate donation from Bellsouth

  9. ECE Advisory Committee Involvement • ECE Advisory Committee meetings are scheduled to coincide with final capstone design presentations • Provides one external source of design evaluation • Provides one additional opportunity for students to meet with potential employers • Students have a chance to represent department • A good motivator for students and faculty alike

  10. Current Design Project Examples

  11. Questions?