One of the most important, challenging, and rewarding aspects of the civil engineering curriculum at a college or university is the senior capstone project, or senior project. A “culminating experience” or capstone project is a required component of an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) accredited civil engineering curriculum – but beyond that it provides a student with perhaps their first near-real-world experience of interaction with a client, project owner, community, or others outside of their typical academic world.
Typically students will be assigned to small teams, assigned a project (real or hypothetical), and then taught basic project management, design, and project delivery techniques to work their way through iterative solutions for presentation to their “client.” Each university may handle the details of their capstone program a little differently, but in essence, the students act as an engineering team managing and designing a project as if they were a consulting engineering firm hired by a project owner.
Hoyle Tanner is proud to be heavily involved in capstone programs of schools nearby to our several offices and find that helping to shape our team members of tomorrow to be incredibly rewarding. Being involved in these programs provides many benefits to our team members including sharing knowledge, networking, and the pride of giving back to the universities that provided us with the foundations for our careers. The students benefit by learning how the engineering industry works, establishing real-world engineering contacts that they may be able to leverage for future employment, and the accomplishment of utilizing their educational background to perform on a real-world project. It’s a win-win-win for the industry, the students, and the university.
Many of our professionals have been involved in numerous capstone programs over many years. Some examples include:
- Matthew Low, PE, Director of Engineering Operations is in his second academic year serving as Adjunct Faculty at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and instructing UNH’s Introduction to Project Planning and Design class. He has been involved in many aspects of the UNH civil engineering program for years including awarding scholarships, and serving on the Civil Engineering Advisory Board, but the capstone program is providing him with the most direct ability to make a positive impact on a student-by-student basis.
- Wilbur Mathurin, PE, Senior Project Manager, recently completed his fifth year as Adjunct Faculty at the University of Central Florida (UCF) instructing their Capstone Design class. Wilbur wanted to get involved to make a real difference because he believes there is real value to the students in weaving real world experience into their academic journey. He enjoys showing them how what they have learned over their four years is applied at the project level.
- Hoyle Tanner has sponsored senior projects for the UNH capstone class six times over the last seven years for project teams including bridge and airport projects providing hands-on mentoring as the “client” for many aspiring engineers. Hoyle Tanner’s engineers involved in these projects have included Josif Bicja, PE; Katelyn Welch, EIT; Jillian Semprini, PE; Kayla Hampe, PE; Nicole Crawford, PE; and Bob Furey, PE, to name a few.
- Ed Weingartner, Senior Technical Bridge Engineer, is currently working for a second consecutive year as a capstone project mentor at his alma mater the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. With over 30 years of intense bridge engineering experience on complicated structures, Ed is thrilled to be able to pass along what he has learned to the students so that they will be better-prepared when they embark on their careers.
- For the last four years, several engineers from our Burlington, Vermont office have been involved in the University of Vermont’s (UVM) capstone program by being judges, providing feedback, and mentoring. It is a great way for our local team of professionals to support the next group of engineers in northern Vermont.
- Jennie Auster, Associate and Senior Environmental Engineer, spoke at a graduate seminar in October 2021 at UVM. She presented on how engineers help communities solve wastewater treatment problems and have a unique opportunity to be “boots on the ground” environmental stewards. She discussed a diversity of projects and the dynamic blend of hydraulics, chemistry and biology that goes into finding solutions for our communities.
We are glad to give back to our local universities and share our expertise for the benefit of our future engineering leaders and encourage our peers to do the same. Reach out and find out how you can help your local civil engineering education program – you’ll be happy you did.