Capstone projects confirm student readiness for industry
Seniors draw on years of learning to solve practical problems, showcasing growth and experience
Many students in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering devote a large part of their last year to completing a capstone project, which demonstrates the insights and skills they have developed at ASU. Working in teams of two to seven people to solve a practical industrial problem, the experience is both a significant challenge and a source of substantive growth.
“It’s an opportunity to practice professionalism and engineering design in a low-risk environment,” says Ryan Meuth, a capstone project coordinator and a senior lecturer in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, one of the six Fulton Schools. “Students can learn from their mistakes without any real career impact. So, the capstone course offers a meaningful transition from the academic world to the professional one.”
For many students, capstone work involves direct contact with members of industry who sponsor a project and liaise with student teams as they tackle the challenges of solving their assigned problem.
Brett Goldsmith, an electrical systems engineering major, and his capstone team are pursuing a design opportunity posed by NMG Aerospace, an Ohio-based engineering and manufacturing business with a significant presence in Arizona. He and his team are working with NMG to explore the possibility of improving a flight-critical airliner safety system.
“This project has shown me how a lot of the things I have learned in my program are directly applicable to potential career opportunities,” Goldsmith says.
“It’s an opportunity to practice professionalism and engineering design in a low-risk environment,” says Ryan Meuth, “Students can learn from their mistakes without any real career impact. So, the capstone course offers a meaningful transition from the academic world to the professional one.”
Other capstone projects include a Mayo Clinic initiative to enable a mobile diagnostic tool to scan patient retinas, a General Dynamics Missions Systems effort to apply quantum science to detect eavesdroppers in communications links, and a Maricopa County Department of Transportation plan to design a robotic traffic cone placement system to improve safety during emergency incident responses.
At The Polytechnic School, the capstone project process culminates at the Innovation Showcase, an impressive gathering of students, faculty and other stakeholders to review the results of each team’s work.
“We celebrate our students’ abilities to bring together all the components of their education to produce something innovative,” says Darryl Morrell, associate professor of engineering at The Polytechnic School and a capstone project coordinator. “We also build bridges to our industry partners, which benefits our students with increased job opportunities, as well as our programs through added expertise and resources.”