Applying Theory to Real-World Problems: Integrating Service-Learning into the Industrial Engineering Capstone Design Course

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Sinan Onal
Joel Nadler
Megan O'Loughlin


The Senior Capstone Design course is one of the most important in the four-year industrial engineering curriculum. The course concludes the Industrial Engineering (IE) student’s undergraduate studies, satisfying the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology’s (ABET) requirements and allowing students to work in collaborative teams. Service-learning is an educational approach that integrates academics with community service; students apply classroom content to community problems, thereby enhancing learning while providing needed services to underserved populations. The proposed service-learning aims to address all the ABET requirements as well as involve a collaborative research partnership in which students conduct research to meet a community organization’s needs. The deliverables for this project include (1) a detailed report describing the design, analysis, performance, and alternative approaches, (2) the physical prototype developed by the team, and (3) a network of experienced young professionals who can be recruited as employees for local community organizations. A pre-test and post-test were administered at the beginning and end of the semester to assess learning over time. These tests were specifically assessing student confidence in ability to transition smoothly from academia to professional environments. In addition, a mid-semester survey was used to gather detailed information about stakeholder reactions, learning, and behaviors. 

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Author Biography

Sinan Onal, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville (SIUE)

I am an Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. I received my Ph.D. degree in Industrial and Management Systems Engineering from University of South Florida.