Integrating engineering and arts through capstone design: Creative campus meets the learning factory

Timothy W. Simpson, Marcus Shaffer, Elisha Clark Halpin, Amy Dupain Vashaw, Dorothy H. Evensen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The Learning Factory at Penn State coordinates the largest college-wide, industry-sponsored engineering capstone design program in the country. Each year, over 750 engineering students across 12 different majors work in teams of 4-6 for a semester on industry- And client-sponsored capstone design projects. About 30% of these projects engage students in a single engineering discipline (e.g., mechanical engineering), 40% engage students in two disciplines (e.g., chemical engineering and mechanical engineering), and 30% engage students in three or more disciplines (e.g., bioengineering, electrical engineering, and industrial engineering). As the capstone program grew across disciplines within engineering, it also enabled teams to work with students and faculty outside of engineering. Based on the needs of a specific project, an engineering capstone design team can now be paired with students in one or more of the following colleges: Arts & Architecture, Business, Communications, Earth & Mineral Sciences, Health & Human Development, or Information Sciences & Technology. The result is an interdisciplinary experience that is more representative of what students will find in the real world. In this paper, we share our experiences using capstone design projects to integrate students and faculty in engineering and arts as part of a two-year Creative Campus project, The Secret Life of Public Spaces. An overview of the Creative Campus initiative is provided along with details on our specific project and the three capstone design projects that supported it. The perceptions of the faculty "clients" for each capstone project are discussed along with relevant feedback that was obtained as part of the overall project assessment. While tensions among the engineering and non-engineering students and faculty "clients" ran high at times, two of the three capstone design projects were recognized with Best Project awards at the end of the semester showcase as judged by experts from industry, evidence of the benefits of working across multiple disciplines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2013
Event120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Atlanta, GA, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2013Jun 26 2013


Other120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAtlanta, GA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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