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Guidelines for assessing and developing final year engineering projects
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Mohammad Rasul, Alphonsius Nouwens, Fae Martin, Colin Greensill, D Singh, C Kestell, Roger Hadgraft
The final year engineering project (FYEP) is the culminating learning experience of engineering programs. It requires students to demonstrate that they can integrate knowledge, skills and professional graduate attributes developed during their program and perform at a standard expected of graduates. Accreditation guidelines require engineering programs to show that students are capable of personally conducting and managing an engineering project to achieve a substantial outcome to professional standards [1, 2]]. Such requirements are emergent from international engineering accreditation agreements, Washington Accord, International Engineering Alliance  to which the Australian and New Zealand accreditation bodies are parties. In the United States of America, The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has promoted and monitored development of capstone project work both to develop and assess individual students and to provide evidence for assessing standards in programs of study [4-6].Reliable and valid assessment practices are central to the integrity of the qualifications offered at universities and are thus a legitimate focus for quality assurance. If well designed and implemented, FYEPs can provide a robust vehicle for assessing the professional capabilities of individual students who are about to graduate, as well as provide evidence of the effectiveness and standards of a program of study for accreditation. Samples of the FYEP work produced in their final year by graduating students is one important indicator of the standard of engineering programs that guides decisions of program accreditation panels.This study aims to develop guidelines for students and supervisors for assessing final year engineering projects. Specifically, the project aims to develop: (a) a clear definition of the educational outcomes and expectations of FYEPs – as much for students as for supervisors (b) best practice guidelines for assessing FYEPs, and (c) linkages between the outcomes based assessment practices of FYEPs and the Stage 1 Competency Standards of Engineers Australia. More specifically, this study aims to achieve the following outcomes:•More effective use of FYEPs as an integrating learning experience that engages students, enabling them to demonstrate high levels of professional performance. Students will be better prepared to undertake projects, have clear expectations about what projects require of them and what to expect of academic supervisors.•More effective use of FYEPs as vehicles for assessing student learning and developing professional attributes. Students will be better, more consistently prepared to articulate what they have learned from their project.•More effective use of FYEPs as indicators of program standards in accreditation and curriculum design. The project will promote shared understandings of requirements of good projects and standards of project work that final year students are expected to demonstrate in their assessment.•Increased capacity of staff to provide students with advice, supervision and assessment of FYEPs. Staff will develop a clear, more consistent understanding of how to supervise undergraduate projects and the expectations and demands on them as project coordinators, supervisors and assessors/moderators.•Initiate and improve FYEP scholarship, sharing and improvement of practice between coordinators and institutions by establishing an online, networked community of practice.