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Applying Scrum Project Management Methods in Biomedical and Electrical and Computer Engineering Capstone Design Courses

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2018 ASEE Mid-Atlantic Section Spring Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

April 6, 2018

Start Date

April 6, 2018

End Date

April 7, 2018

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David Timothy Lee George Washington University Orcid 16x16

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I am the course director for the capstone design courses in Biomedical Engineering. I manage 10-12 capstone teams per year.
I also teach create lab and activity based curriculum and teach first year introductory BME courses.

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Carl E. Wick Sr. George Washington University

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Dr. Carl Wick is currently a Professional Lecturer with the Biomedical Engineering Department of the George Washington University where he provides technical assistance and advice to capstone project students. Previously he was associated with the U.S. Naval Academy where he is a Professor Emeritus. Dr. Wick received a D.Sc. in Computer Science from the George Washington University.

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Hernan Figueroa

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Dr. Figueroa was the course director for the first and second semester Electrical and Computer
Engineering capstone courses in 2017 at George Washington University. His research is transitioning towards Data Science focusing on time series forecasting and optimization algorithms for smart grid applications. Prior to joining the George Washington University, Professor Figueroa was an associate research scientist at the Sustainable Engineering Lab at Columbia University. He earned his Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of South Carolina.

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The Biomedical engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering Departments at George Washington University have traditionally used a waterfall project management methodology for their two and three semester capstone design courses. We noticed that this approach resulted in incomplete senior design projects. Our analysis of these failures showed two major problems. First, students do not have experience with how things are made. So, they are unable to produce the detailed designs required by a waterfall planning scheme. Second, they are afraid to start building subsystems, so they delay building until the last moment. This left them without time to fix failures, revise their plans, and integrate components. So, we chose to utilize an agile project management technique used extensively in the software industry. We implemented a variant of scrum project planning, which is based on starting with an overall design, start to build subsystems for that design, and modify your design as you learn. It is a structured and supervised try-fail-fix approach to project management that we believe is well suited to capstone design. Our first semester modifications were generally well received by faculty and students. We compared the state of designs from previous years, which should be complete, with those submitted this year, which are not expected to be complete. We found that, overall, this year's designs are as good as previous designs. However, teams from this year have completed parts of their projects, while previous teams would not have started building.

Lee, D. T., & Wick, C. E., & Figueroa, H. (2018, April), Applying Scrum Project Management Methods in Biomedical and Electrical and Computer Engineering Capstone Design Courses Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Mid-Atlantic Section Spring Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--29456

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