students wearing virtual reality headsets

Senior Design Capstone

Duke CEE's senior design courses give students rigorous, real-world, engineering experiences

We call it Overture Engineering. Senior design projects are completed through our fictional engineering firm, Overture. The firm has three divisions: architectural, environmental, and structural.

Through this coordinated simulation, Duke CEE seniors focus on synthesizing and applying the science, mathematics, engineering, and design skills—and advanced topics—learned throughout their time at Duke.

Our Virtual Company—Overture Engineering

Senior CEE majors try their hand at real-world design through a set of integrated capstone courses as part of Overture Engineering, a fictional design company for which they are the "employees."

Overture Engineer's student-employees work within their division and then collaborate in cross-divisional teams.

The groups tackle all the aspects of a real-world engineering project. In a recent project, students collaborated on the design of 50,000 square feet of campus research space.

To kick off the project, a site development roundtable was conducted utilizing local, multidisciplinary, design professionals. Students were responsible for different facets of the project, ultimately working as teams for the most cost-effective, code and standards-compliant design. As project deliverables, students develop suitable documentation and reports supporting design assumptions and decisions, in a manner sufficient for bidding.

The structural engineering senior design team focuses on the gravity and lateral force resisting systems of the structure, while the environmental engineering design team deals with the land impact issues around the structure. There is plenty of interaction between the two camps.

Many students take both the architectural capstone and either the structural or environmental capstone, so they see the project from both an architectural and an engineering perspective.

Division Responsibilities

Architectural Division (CEE 411)

  • Siting of Project
  • Development of Program (space use, dimension)
  • Finish Floor Elevations

Structural Division (CEE 429)

  • Foundation Design
  • Column and Beam Design
  • Slab on Grade and Floor Slab Design
  • Retaining Wall Design

Environmental Division (CEE 469)

  • Environmental Site Assessment/Remedial Design
  • Wastewater Treatment Unit Process Design
  • Grading and Erosion Control Plan (including an analysis of the slope stability)
  • Stormwater Plan
  • Stream Restoration and Wetland Creation Design
  • Water Distribution Design
  • Wastewater Conveyance System Design

Project Management (CEE 649/679)

  • Establishing Direct vs. Indirect Expenses and Associated Multiplier, Bill Rates and Budget for the Project
  • Tracking Utilization and Schedule Compliance

Project Completion

For the successful completion of the project, it is critically important that the divisions work together as the decisions made by one affected the work plan of the other (layout and location of the building impacted the foundation design, the grading plan, the foundation wall height and location, potential stream and wetland creation requirements, etc.).

During the semester, the classes hold joint roundtable discussions where design issues affecting all the classes are addressed.