The University of Texas at Dallas

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science


Capstone Design Conference

UT Dallas Hosts National Capstone
Design Conference

Dr. Robert Hart

Dr. Robert Hart

Four years was worth the wait, according to UTDesign® Capstone leaders who hosted the national Capstone Design Conference 2022 at UT Dallas in June.

The conference was postponed twice because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so members of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science spent four years planning for the conference. The event drew about 200 attendees representing more than 65 institutions from throughout the country to focus on best practices for hands-on engineering education and Capstone Design programs.

“The experience gave us an opportunity to show off our campus,” said Dr. Todd Polk, an event organizer and UTDesign director of bioengineering and an associate professor of practice in bioengineering. “Every time I participate, I learn something new, and because the conference is so hyperfocused, it gives us a chance to deep dive.”

The conference included a student Capstone competition, college student mentoring of high school students about the engineering profession, sharing of best practices in design among faculty members and tours of the UTDesign Studio, one of the largest in the nation of its kind, and of nearby corporate research facilities.

Dr. Todd Polk

Dr. Todd Polk

“It was an honor to be selected to be the host institution for this conference,” said Dr. Robert Hart, associate professor of practice in mechanical engineering and UTDesign director of mechanical engineering. “Going from being first-time attendees at the conference in 2012 to being the host institution a decade later shows how UTD has grown to become a national leader in Capstone Design education.”

The event kicked off with a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Stephanie G. Adams, dean of the Jonsson School, holder of the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering and professor of systems engineering, about why design teams should focus on inclusion through the design process to create the best, most functional products designed to serve the greatest number of people. The three-day event also included a keynote address by Douglas Moore, general manager, fuel cell solutions and business development at Toyota North America, about his career shift to centering on people and a process of continuous improvement.

A team of Jonsson School students won first place in the student competition, a three-way tie, for the fourth time in recent years of the biennial competition.

“UTDesign is the crown jewel of the Jonsson School as it demonstrates our commitment to real world learning and innovation through applied design,” Adams said.