The recently held Capstone & Undergraduate Research Experiences in Engineering (CUREE) event at Texas A&M University brought together a diverse group of participants from various engineering departments, ranging from seasoned professors to first-year professors of practice. This immersive event hosted by the Institute for Engineering Education & Innovation (IEEI) aimed to foster a tight-knit community and explore key aspects of capstone projects and undergraduate research.
The event commenced on a warm and welcoming note, with guests being greeted at a vibrant coffee bar, setting the stage for networking and lively discussions. Participants had the opportunity to introduce themselves and share their favorite aspects of capstone projects, establishing a sense of camaraderie and collective enthusiasm within the group.
CUREE comprised six insightful sessions, each delving into different facets of capstone experiences and undergraduate research. The sessions were facilitated by distinguished individuals from the engineering community, offering their expertise and perspectives to enrich the discussions.
In the first session, the focus was on what constitutes a good sponsor for capstone projects. Facilitators Joanna Tsenn, Michael Do, Zachary Bujnoch, and Stravros Kalafatis guided participants through discussions on sponsor dedication, commitment to student success, and fostering a productive project environment.
“Dedicated and committed to the project as well as student success during the capstone journey” – Mike Do, ISEN
The second session delved into effective capstone team management, covering important aspects such as team structuring and issue escalation. Facilitators Stravros Kalafatis, Pauline Wade, and Shawna Thomas shared valuable insights and strategies for maximizing team efficiency and collaboration.
Mentoring undergraduate researchers took center stage in the third session, facilitated by Tracy Hammond and Paul Taele. Tracy Hammond emphasized the significance of setting clear expectations early on, providing participants with valuable guidance on mentoring and supporting undergraduate students in their research endeavors.
Session four focused on creating vertically integrated projects (VIP) programs, multidisciplinary projects, and other innovative models. Tracy Hammond and Magda Lagoudas shed light on the history of the AggiE Challenge and shared insights on starting VIP programs, encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration, and promoting innovative project ideas.
Magda Lagoudas led the fifth session, which provided an overview of the TAMU process and template agreements for sponsored capstone projects. Participants gained valuable knowledge on negotiation techniques and funding strategies to ensure successful project implementation.
The event concluded with an engaging session facilitated by Hillary Merzdorf, where participants brainstormed ideas for enhancing the CUREE experience. The discussion revolved around industry connections, effective team management, and further strengthening mentorship opportunities for undergraduate researchers.
The CUREE event proved to be an invaluable platform for sharing expertise, fostering collaboration, and elevating the quality of capstone and undergraduate research experiences. Through these meaningful discussions and interactive sessions, participants gained practical insights, expanded their professional networks, and discovered new avenues for improving the CUREE journey.
As the engineering community continues to evolve, events like CUREE play a pivotal role in shaping the future of capstone projects and undergraduate research. By embracing innovative approaches and fostering a supportive environment, institutions can empower students and faculty members to excel in their scholarly pursuits, driving transformative change within the field of engineering education.
IEEI is proud to support and host initiatives like CUREE, reaffirming its commitment to excellence in engineering education and the pursuit of groundbreaking research.