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Acculturating First Year Engineering Students To Teamwork

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.54.1 - 4.54.7

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Suzanne Mildren

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Karen Whelan

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2460

Aculturating First Year Engineering Students to Teamwork

Suzanne Mildren, Karen Whelan University of Ballarat, School of Engineering (Higher Education), Victoria, AUSTRALIA


In many countries, the traditional academic culture typically described as a ‘person culture’ is increasingly being questioned by industry, which relies heavily on an organisational model based on a ‘team culture’ [1, 2]. Engineers working in Australia, just as in other industrialised parts of the world, are more often faced with a dynamic employment environment than in the past, and the sign posts indicate that this fluidity will be the way of the future. In these changing times it is becoming an imperative for engineers to be competent team players and leaders, and education must therefore prepare future engineers to meet these challenges [3]. The strategic plan for the University of Ballarat emphasises the development of student learning environments that are both flexible and encourage lifelong learning. Teamwork, including teaching and learning in teams is a central strategy for achieving cultural change across the University. The University of Ballarat, School of Engineering, is striving to make teamwork an intrinsic part of the cultural landscape of undergraduate engineering study. In order to achieve this goal it is believed necessary to begin with the first year of the engineering course, while reinforcing teamwork as a learning paradigm throughout later years of the course. This paper will briefly discuss the background and context for the work undertaken, outline the initial plan to bring about a teamwork culture, discuss how and why the initial plan evolved, what has been achieved and the way forward.

I. Introduction

In response to changing world view’s and the incredible technical and social transformations under way a new integrated Bachelor of Engineering course commenced in 1996 at the University of Ballarat (UB), developed and offered by the School of Engineering. This integrated course aims to present engineering within a holistic societal context and to teach engineering concepts in a way that highlights the connections and relationships between areas of study rather than as delineated, isolated topics. In a ‘big picture’ sense the course aims to produce engineers who are ready and able to work across traditional engineering disciplines and factor in relevant ethical, political, cultural, environmental and economic issues. The overall structure of the course uses applied engineering design and systems as the means for achieving this integrated approach [4].

The principal characteristics of the new Bachelor of Engineering course at UB are [4]:

Use of applied engineering design as an integrating theme; Integration of theory and practice through experiential learning;

Mildren, S., & Whelan, K. (1999, June), Acculturating First Year Engineering Students To Teamwork Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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