Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Title

2014 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings


1-13 (24.1083)

Conference Name

2014 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana, June 15-18, 2014


Experiential learning and cooperative education provide students with the necessary tools to succeed in the workplace by simulating their future working environment. Various studies have shown that many graduates have gaps related to their so called "soft skills", which are related to teamwork, time management, working under pressure and tight deadlines. The main purpose of the inclusion of the industry expert in senior design discussions is to provide meaningful feedback through a competitive led by industry practitioners. In this simulation, the senior engineering students take on the role of actual engineering job functions, on a demanding, continuous basis for the entire school year or semester. These job functions come with all the shortcomings and particular difficulties associated with those functions in the real world. In order to develop the interpersonal professional skills needed by industry, a methodology presented in this paper is given which allows the student teams to evolve socially as departments, while supporting them with information such as Tuckman's stages of group development, Myers-Briggs type indication, and recognition of the various personalities and issues arising when working in a cross-functional, team based environment. The application of this methodology and course set-up resulted in engineering graduates that were not surprised by the potential difficulties that may be encountered when ensconced in full-time, permanent engineering employment. This paper will detail some of the necessary elements required to make mechanical engineering and engineering technology capstone courses simulate real world work experience and provide students with immersion in their senior design experience which engages their "soft skills". It presents a method whereby the senior design course is taught by a faculty with extensive industry experience and guided by the panel of experts made up of other faculty from the department and industry representatives. The technique(s) presented in this paper were tailored to the traditional roles of mechanical (design) engineers in the modern industrial setting, but can be reapplied to other engineering areas.


© 2014 American Society for Engineering Education, ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, Indianapolis, Indiana, June 15-18, 2014.

Original Publication Citation

DeAgostino, T. H., Jovanovic, V., & Thomas, M. B. (2014). Simulating real world work experience in engineering capstone courses. Paper presented at the 2014 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana.


0000-0002-8626-903X (Jovanovic)