Electrical engineering capstone projects provide students with an invaluable opportunity to work on a substantial design project from start to finish while leveraging the knowledge and skills they have gained throughout their undergraduate studies. While students take the lead on their capstone projects, guidance and oversight from faculty members can help maximize the educational and professional benefits students gain from this experience. There are several key ways faculty involvement supports students throughout the capstone process:
Setting realistic and meaningful project scopes: Faculty advisors play an important role in helping students identify capstone project ideas and scope them at a level that can be reasonably accomplished within the allotted time frame. They can draw on their experience to counsel students on determining a design challenge that is ambitious yet feasible given the student’s current abilities and resource constraints. This is crucial for ensuring students take on a project they can successfully complete while still gaining relevant engineering experience.
Providing technical expertise: As subject matter experts, faculty members are well-positioned to offer valuable technical guidance, advice and feedback to students as they work through the various stages of their capstone projects. From the initial planning phases through prototype development and testing, faculty advisors can help troubleshoot technical issues, recommend design approaches, connect students to relevant research, and ensure projects adhere to safety and engineering standards. Their input and perspective as experienced engineers helps elevate student work.
Developing project management skills: In addition to the technical aspects, capstone projects aim to develop students’ engineering practices such as project planning, documentation, teamwork, and professional communications. Faculty guidance supports this learning by working with students to establish realistic schedules and milestones, reviewing regular progress reports, and providing feedback on deliverables such as design proposals, documentation and final presentations. This coaching from faculty strengthens students’ ability to effectively manage complex engineering projects.
Connecting to resources: Capstone projects often involve gaining access to specialized tools, testing equipment, facilities or expertise not readily available in undergraduate labs and workshops. Faculty advisors serve as the liaison for connecting students to the various campus or industry resources needed to support their project work. Whether securing time on advanced equipment, arranging consultations with subject matter experts, or facilitating procurement of hard-to-obtain components, faculty guidance is invaluable for overcoming resource barriers.
Ensuring safety and ethics: As the technical authority overseeing capstone projects, faculty advisors ensure student work adheres to necessary safety protocols and engineering codes of ethics. They guide students through compliance requirements, permit applications, approvals for human or animal subjects research, and handling of hazardous materials if applicable. Maintaining safety and ethics is critical for protecting both students and their institutions. Faculty oversight provides accountability on these essential project elements.
Assessing learning outcomes: Most importantly, faculty advisors leverage their experience to assess the degree to which each student has met the intended learning outcomes of the capstone experience. Through reviewing final reports and presentations, advisors gauge the level of technical competence, design and problem-solving skills, team and project management abilities, and professional communication skills demonstrated in the completed student work. Their feedback verifies what was gained from each individual experience. This personalized assessment from faculty mentors helps direct future professional and educational pathways for graduating students.
The hands-on guidance, expertise and accountability that faculty advisors provide throughout the electrical engineering capstone process are incredibly valuable for maximizing the educational impact of this culminating project experience. Their involvement supports students in developing strong technical abilities while strengthening their engineering practices. It also helps facilitate the resources, compliance and individual assessment needed to successfully complete meaningful work and achieve the intended learning outcomes. For these reasons, dedicated faculty mentorship enrichly enhances what students gain from their undergraduate capstone design projects.