^ To Top

Assessing Capstone Experience

Please cite as follows: Chan, CKY (2015). "Assessing Capstone Experience", Engineering Education Enhancement and Research Asia (E3R Asia).


What is a Report?

Engineering students may be asked to write a progress report or a capstone design report when they participate in a capstone design course. For progress report, the submission may be weekly or monthly depending on the decisions made by the teaching staff. Report writing skills are especially essential for engineering students. As they enter their profession as engineers, they are often required to write up technical reports.  Thus it is important to let students gain early exposure to the nature of report writing so that they are well-prepared to write competently and be able to express their understanding and constraints about the design in written form. In addition, students learn to work as a team when writing report. For instance they have to make decision in allocating the work load among team members and they have to accommodate to each others different writing style. Furthermore, transferable skills like the possession of IT skills and the ability to solve problems can be assessed through a report (Curtin University, n.d.).    


Mechanical Engineering students completing a capstone design project at Georgia Technical Institute will submit a progress report as part of their assessment. The content of the progress report proposed by Georgia Technical Institute (Georgia Technical Institute, n.d.) includes:

  • An executive summary: is not equivalent to the introduction. It exists as an independent section of the report and is much like an abstract, which summarizes the key points and findings of the complete report. The contents for the executive summary describe the motivation of the design, the approaches used in the design, and the results. For instance what is the design problem and what are the technical problems.  
  • An introduction: illustrates the design problem and the motivation for the design problem, and discusses about the technical problems and challenges regarding the design.
  • A section regarding “existing products and applicable patents”: discusses about existing designs developed in the market, or in the process of research and development; documents patent search and its impact on the design, additionally, if there already is an existing design or design that is similar to the design that the students are making, discuss about the reasons why they continue their design.
  • A section on the specifications of the design: for instance the identification and description of the users’ needs and specifications.
  • A section on the marketing research plans: for instance it can describe the methodologies such as surveys, focus group interviews, and gathering marketing information through internet resources, studies, and from experts.
  • A section summarizing the accomplishments: for instance what is still to be done, discuss about the progress and a proposed schedule for completion of the project, which focuses on the challenges and primary dates. 
  • Bibliography: the resources (literatures and electronic materials)
  • Appendices: the figures, tables, and calculations made.