Undergraduate Capstone Senior Design

The senior year of the undergraduate program includes a two semester Capstone Senior Design sequence where the students work in teams to design, build and test selected ocean engineering projects.

To help students become aware of external engineering issues and current trends in ocean engineering, we invite people who hold or have held high level positions in ocean engineering to offer formal lectures to senior design students and informally meet with them. The range and experience of the people selected are broad and representative of a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds, governmental and industry related, military and environmental, and national and international.

Leadership Skills

To foster leadership qualities and understanding of management senior projects are conducted in the following sequence. First, lectures are given in: project management, planning and team work; engineering management; motivation, behavior and communication; presentation skills; businesses; managerial accounting; and financial accounting. Second, the design class is divided into teams that work on components of a larger design. As such, the students must develop and demonstrate a high level of inter and intra team coordination and communication. Finally, each team has a designated rotating team leader position. The team leader must not only motivate the other students, but plan activities, and prepare weekly reports. The position rotates so that all students have an opportunity to participate in the position.

Societal Awareness

The weekly guest speaker seminars encourage participants to bring awareness to a host of issues in contemporary society. In addition, the design projects students undertake reflect current and relevant issues in society. As part of the project, the students are required to research the broad concepts of the design topic and the logistics and at-sea operational complexities it entails. Thus, the project not only exposes the students to the challenge of engineering an ocean system, but also familiarizes them with the overall societal relevance of the project and the general engineering complexities associated with at-sea operations and wise utilization of the ocean for the benefit of society.


One of the aims of the senior design sequence is to instill an understanding of ethics. To this end, several lectures on ethics are given that teach the four fundamental principles and seven fundamental cannons in the ethics code endorsed by ABET. The series of lectures consist of an entry exam, presentations, and cases studies. The exam is used to assess and to demonstrate to students their level of understanding and need to study ethics. Some of the major focus areas are 1) ethics and the engineering profession, 2) legal and ethical domains, and 3) solving ethical conflicts.