Academic journal article Education Research International

Design and Implementation of a Capstone Course to Satisfy the Industry Needs of Virtual Product Development and ABET Engineering Criteria

Academic journal article Education Research International

Design and Implementation of a Capstone Course to Satisfy the Industry Needs of Virtual Product Development and ABET Engineering Criteria

Article excerpt

Academic Editor:Gwo-Jen Hwang

Mechanical Engineering Department, Taibah University, Almadinah Almonawwarah 42353, Saudi Arabia

Received 6 January 2014; Accepted 8 February 2014; 25 May 2014

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

1. Introduction

Engineering education is a dynamic continuously evolving process that responds to the job market and industrial needs. It adopts new plans, strategies, and technologies to produce a well-integrated engineer with a set of fundamental professional competencies. Professional societies often conduct market surveys to probe the industry needs while, in the meantime, define the futuristic vision of the profession. The professional societies communicate their findings to educational institutions and accreditation agencies. The accreditation agencies compile these requirements into guidelines for the educational institutions where engineering education program developers adapt the program study plans and curricula contents in response to those guidelines. In order to be accredited, the academic program objectives may be aligned with the guidelines of the accreditation agencies, for example, ABET, European Network for Accreditation of Engineering Education (ENAEE), Engineering Accreditation Council (EAC), and so forth. Table 1 shows example of the students outcomes developed by ABET for the engineering programs. ABET emphasizes the need for engineering curricula to include components that allow the students to identify, formulate, and propose engineering solutions to solve industrial problems as well as contemporary social or global problems. Teaching the students engineering design process that will satisfy the industry needs requires developing a set of fundamental skills. This procedure may require integrating the knowledge that has been acquired in different courses. The engineering design process could involve conducting experiments to evaluate the performance of the proposed solution or process. In order to produce an acceptable economical solution, the proposed design must fulfill the product standards and safety requirements of the region or the country. Developing a competitive solution may require using the modern engineering tools and procedures. In order for teams to function properly, members have to discipline themselves and adhere to professional ethics. Developing the academic program that fulfills ABET requirements could become a challenging daunting task and leave some gaps. The capstone courses can aid in closing those gaps. The capstone courses have been widely implemented to aid in building and enhancing the skill sets mentioned above.

Table 1: ABET students outcomes [4].

ABET outcome "k " which requires "ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice" [1], is known to be a challenging goal in many aspects. Many academic programs consider fulfilling this outcome through teaching commercial software packages that can achieve acceptable results in certain aspects to fulfill the course outcomes. However, integrating these commercial packages into a holistic approach to form a problem solving procedure has been very limited and, in many cases, has not been taken into consideration. On the other hand, the industry is more interested in developing and following systematic integrated procedures from the early stages of product concept development till manufacturing and after sales services.

According to commercial surveys [2], designers face an increasing pressure and constraints that require special skills to achieve their tasks. More than 80% of the designers spend an average of 25% of their time on concept generation process compared to the total time required to design, develop, and manufacture a product. …

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