Engineering Capstone Design Education: Current Practices, Emerging Trends, and Successful Strategies

  • Susannah HoweEmail author
  • Jay Goldberg


Capstone design courses play an important role in the preparation of engineering students for professional practice and career success. They allow students to apply what they have learned prior to their senior year along with newly developed skills relating to the solution of real-world design problems, often in a team environment with external clients. Team-based capstone design courses provide opportunities for students to develop teamwork and communication skills. In the United States, accredited engineering programs are required to offer a major design experience; most programs fulfill this requirement through a capstone design course. Differences in course learning outcomes, management, structure, duration, projects, student teams, and required deliverables exist among institutions. This chapter presents the current state of engineering capstone design education and highlights changes to capstone design practices in the U.S. over the past 25 years, based on extensive, seminal surveys of capstone design programs. It discusses current practices and successful strategies in engineering capstone design education. The chapter includes perspectives and feedback from hundreds of engineering capstone design faculty regarding their personal experiences with capstone design programs. This chapter also provides recommendations for supporting engineering capstone design experiences based on the authors’ vast experience teaching and managing capstone design courses and engaging with the capstone design community. These recommendations include scaffolding the design curriculum, fostering industry involvement in capstone design courses, keeping courses and faculty up-to-date with current design practices, obtaining organizational support for capstone design courses, sourcing capstone design projects, and preparing students for professional practice.


Engineering capstone design Career preparation Design pedagogy Design projects Professional practice 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Smith College, Picker Engineering ProgramNorthamptonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical EngineeringMarquette University and the Medical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA

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