International Capstone Design

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Real. World. Experience.


International Capstone Design Objective

The class is designed to emulate work of a design/build firm in industry while providing a meaningful class experience that combines field construction with an engineering design project to benefit people of the developing world.  The experience provides students a platform to consider economic and health factors, social and societal impact, application of appropriate technology, constructability and sustainability, safety, reliability, aesthetics, ethics, and environmental limitations of the developing world while applying engineering skills to a design that results in a more sustainable Earth.



Linda Phillips and Dennis Magolan have provided seventeen (17) international senior design classes and 187 students the opportunity to travel abroad with International Capstone Design (ICD). Design and construction projects include community flood control, fundamental water supply and treatment, improving sanitary conditions, school classrooms and school site master planning.

The ICD program fulfills the ABET accreditation requirements for an engineering senior capstone design class, but differs from the traditional on-campus capstone design by including a global focus with projects located in developing world countries. ICD gives students a “real world” engineering project experience from inception to producing construction drawings for the developing world “client’s” use should the client choose to implement the students’ designs.

The ICD program at USF works in collaboration with a university in Cochabamba Bolivia, Universidad del Valle or UNIVALLE. This partnership has enhanced the ICD program as UNIVALLE has developed formal agreements with the surrounding municipalities to provide “real world” engineering infrastructure projects for the ICD program. UNIVALLE also provides professors to mentor the students, translators and coordinates logistics of housing, meals and transportation. In addition, UNIVALLE engineering students join the USF student project teams to work together to assess the problems and develop solutions. This arrangement is intended to enhance the cultural experience for both students and faculty of both institutions.

The ICD program is divided into 2 parts; a summer visit to the developing country followed by the fall design class on the USF campus in Tampa. During their stay in-country, students visit project sites, collect data and communicate with local authorities, experts and stakeholders of the municipal projects. Additionally students work on a construction project alongside locals to enhance the cultural experience and introduce them to the local construction methods and techniques. Upon returning to the USF campus, students analyze data collected, produce an engineering design report with proposed solutions, a construction cost estimate and construction drawings.

This life-changing experience will raise global awareness of USF students and their international partners and will pay dividends throughout their professional and personal lives. ICD recognizes the value of multidisciplinary and mentor involvement. The program includes development of alumni-student mentor relationships by allowing practicing engineering alumni to participate in this unique experience. Local health and humanitarian benefits will be realized through designs for improved local sanitary conditions and provision of reliable water systems.  Project designs and construction will also enhance educational and social opportunities for the children.  

An expected benefit is the opportunity to provide professional and technological transfer to both cultures and between generations while improving the world community. Another expected outcome is alumni who will strive to be the best for the world rather than the best in the world.