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What is the Senior Capstone Design Experience?

The Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s senior capstone design courses utilize industry-level team projects and professional interaction to equip future engineers with important design, communication and presentation experience. Capstone courses are the culmination of the Texas A&M Engineering experience, as seniors apply their four years of classroom knowledge to solve realistic engineering problems. The courses prepare civil and environmental engineering students to use advanced technology to analyze and design engineering elements and systems according to industry standards. Seniors also make significant professional contacts through design projects with industry participants, frequent guest lecturers and design contests.

Why are Senior Capstone Design Courses Important?

The capstone experience successfully prepares future engineers by bridging the gap between the classroom and industry. Students are required to use their knowledge and skills to complete an engineering design project equivalent to the assignments they will soon receive as professional engineers. Students perform the projects in groups, forcing them to develop the skills necessary to succeed in diverse industry design teams. Employers value graduates with capstone design experience because these students have gained broad experience by applying their extensive knowledge base to solve complex engineering problems as a team.

"My observation as an employer is that graduates who have taken a capstone class have a better sense of the big picture when working on a project and are more comfortable with the long, collaborative design process. The greatest benefit though is that the student’s capstone project represents a project that they could really find themselves designing when they get out of school.”

Dennis M. Wittry, P.E., S.E. ’91
Principal, Managing Director of Houston Structural Engineering Services, WALTER P MOORE

“Capstone programs deliver a practical application of the skills learned, and allow students to experience the technical and non-technical aspects of their degree that are critical to success in the workplace. Working on a team, defining the problem and developing a solution, and bringing together many technical skills to deliver a product are key elements in the practice of engineering.”

Bob Pence, P.E., ’72
President and CEO, Freese and Nichols, Inc.

“Capstone design projects are a key element in the education of engineers. This type of activity along with appropriate work term employment is important in making young engineering graduates ready to start working in industry.”

Peter G. Noble
Chief Naval Architect, ConocoPhillips-Floating Systems