Engineering Education

Students prepare the site for the Goode Greenhouse

Because pervasive computing systems deal intimately with human needs and interactions, they must be envisioned and developed by interdisciplinary teams that not only understand the technological challenges, but the human ones as well. Crucial to this design process is ensuring these teams are effective and well-functioning. Specifically, it is important that all participants understand the abilities of team members from other disciplines. In earlier work I examined how prototyping exercises helped clarify project goals and establish a disciplinary rapport within teams. More recently I have studied the motivations of capstone design teams. In particular, we have compared the attitudes and experiences of students working on traditional, single discipline projects, such as design of off-road and race cars, as compared to students working in a more interdisciplinary setting designing a smart greenhouse for a local elementary school and assistive technologies for persons with mental and physical disabilities. Looking at these two populations, we found that students who participated in the more interdisciplinary and service-oriented projects felt more personal satisfaction in their engineering work than their peers on the single discipline projects.

Publications from this work:

Kala Meah, Jason Forsyth, James Moscola, “A Smart Sensor Network for an Automated Urban Greenhouse”, 2019 International Conference on Robotics, Electrical and Signal Progressing Techniques (ICREST), Dhaka, Bangladesh, January 10-12, 2019 link

Jason Forsyth, Mark Budnik, Randi Shedlosky, Jeff Will, “Effects of Service-Learning Projects on Capstone Student Motivation”, Proceedings of the American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference – Multidisciplinary Engineering Division, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 24-27, 2018 link

Jason Forsyth, Nicole Hesson, “Benefits and Challenges Transitioning to Community Service Multidisciplinary Capstone Projects”, Proceedings of the American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference – Multidisciplinary Engineering Division, Columbus, Ohio, June 25-28, 2017 link

Funding for the work:

Jason Forsyth, Nicole Hesson, “Developing an Automated Greenhouse at Alexander D. Goode Elementary School to Serve as a Living Laboratory for Science Education”, $9,746 over 12 months from the York County Community Foundation. Proposal supports research and capital expenses related to the automated greenhouse capstone project. Awarded 1/1/2017.

Jason Forsyth, Nicole Hesson; “Addressing Economic and Educational Disadvantages in York City through Engineering Design Projects”, $17,000 over 12 months from the Office of the President. Proposal supports research investigating the impact of service-based multidisciplinary projects on engineering students, faculty, and community partners. Also, provides material support for capstone projects to develop an automated greenhouse, assistive technologies, and targeted curricula for K-8 students. Awarded: 3/24/2016

Jason Forsyth
Associate Professor of Engineering

Jason Forsyth is an Associate Professor of Engineering at James Madison University. His major research interests are in wearable/ubiquitous computing and engineering education. His current research interests focus on on-body human activity recognition and interactive machine learning for physical therapy patients and practitioners to increase exercise adherence and clinical evaluation.


An effective and efficient sensor network is an essen- tial component of an automated urban greenhouse (AUG). This paper describes a …

Many engineering programs incorporate project-based, service learning into traditional classes and capstone experience. These projects …

Significant research has shown the positive benefit of service and community-based learning on student diversity, engagement, and …