International Journal of Engineering Education
This paper studies the differences between student experiences in domestic and international capstone design offerings for mechanical engineering students at Clemson University. For this, we conducted surveys and interviews of students participating in both the traditional domestic version of a capstone course at Clemson University and a group of students that participated in an international, study abroad version of a capstone course jointly administered by Clemson University and West Virginia University. The surveys were given to students before and after the program to assess whether the international component had an impact on their global awareness when compared to their peers in the traditional domestic program. The surveys, due to the low sample size available from only a dozen participating students, are augmented with interviews conducted at the end of the international program. The findings suggest that there is not a significant change in recognized attributes of global awareness for the population, but there was some movement within individuals. It is also seen that the reasons for participation in the international version of the course varied widely from a desire for international experience to the desire to graduate during the summer sessions when the only capstone option was the international version. The findings begin to provide justification for the international option based on some improvements with global awareness, but additional investigation is warranted as existing programs are continued and new programs introduced.
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