As an engineering capstone project, the AE senior thesis is an opportunity to combine five years of architectural engineering coursework and knowledge into a single large project. But the most important lessons I learned weren't about lighting, power, or any other option area: They were in time management of a long term project with many parts. The typical class structure of many small assignments throughout the semester is drastically different from real engineering work that builds on itself over many months or years. The senior thesis is a better preparation for this than any other course I've taken.

While it was fun to have complete design freedom, there are also aspects where the thesis pales in comparison to industry experience, and I feel my summer internship was much more instructive. Much of a real design would be influenced by outside factors, like an owner's or architect's vision, changes to accommodate revised designs, or needing to coordinate ceiling layouts with an MEP firm that can't relocate ducts. While the breadths are arguably valuable as an educational tool, AE isn't multidisciplinary in that I'll be designing mechanical systems myself; I'll be working with other people who design them to come up with a solution that works for all parts of the building. This is one area where BIM thesis improves on the standard AE thesis structure.

The Capstone Project e-Portfolio (CPEP) site functions well as a delivery method because it makes all of the stages of the project persistent. If reports were only submitted on paper, I'd be less likely to revisit them throughout the project. Having everything organized in one central location means that I (and my advisors) have easy access to my previous reports and proposals. It also makes it much more accessible to future students and potential employers than a monolithic report would be.

ABET Outcome Survey (pdf)