Supporting students' technical innovation in capstone design: Insights into the human connection

Michele V. Manuel, Ann F. McKenna, Gregory B. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Educating and guiding undergraduate engineering design teams that perform at a high technical level in innovative design projects can be accomplished by using a hierarchical coaching model. The coaching model discussed in this paper incorporates the use of graduate students as coaches to mentor successful design teams. This paper discusses the results of a study performed on undergraduate engineering design teams and their graduate student coaches during two consecutive years of a capstone design course. The results of this study reveal two underlying themes that can be attributed to the successful execution of this model. One theme is the development of human connections between the coach and undergraduate design team. Another theme that arose was the need for mentorship of the graduate student coach, especially on technical management skills. Both themes enable the design team and coaches to become involved in the design project for reasons beyond that of just understanding fundamental engineering concepts and solving complex problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-316
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2012


  • Capstone design
  • Coaching
  • Design pedagogy
  • Engineering design
  • Teams and teamwork in design
  • Technical management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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