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Assigning Civil Engineering Students To Capstone Course Teams

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

How to Effectively Teach Using Teams

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.294.1 - 12.294.16



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Paper Authors


Vincent Drnevich Purdue University

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Vincent P. Drnevich, P.E. is a professor of civil engineering at Purdue University since 1991. He was Head of the School of Civil Engineering from 1991 to 2000. Prior to that, he was on the faculty at the University of Kentucky. He served as Chair of the Civil Engineering Division of ASEE. He is Fellow and Life Member in the American Society of Civil Engineers, a Fellow of ASTM International, and active in the National Society of Professional Engineers.

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John Norris Purdue University

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John B. Norris is a Doctoral Candidate at Purdue University's Krannert Graduate School of Management, studying Management Science / Quantitative Methods. He received his MBA at Purdue University and his Bachelor of Science at the University of Richmond. He has worked at Information Resources Inc. and IBM Global Services. He has worked on consulting projects at Lucent Technologies and the New York State Department of Transportation. John is a member of the Academy of Management (AOM), Decision Sciences Institute (DSI), Production and Operations Management Society (POMS), and the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

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

Assigning Civil Engineering Students to Capstone Course Teams


Assigning students to teams for project courses that systematically accounts for balance and diversity affects the functioning and success of the teams. This paper presents an implementation of a goal programming model for grouping senior civil engineering students into a semester-long capstone design project course. Student attributes consisting of overall GPA, grades in prior selected coursework, cooperative work experience, skills with relevant computing software, and Jung-Typology (J-T) or Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI) were all considered in the allocation of students to project work groups.

Student team assignment is achieved through goal programming to create balanced teams using a program entitled Balanced Student Assignment Team Macro (BSTAM) implemented with Microsoft Excel® spreadsheets. The method has been used by the Krannert Graduate School of Management at Purdue University over the past six years for assignment of individuals to teams in the Professional Masters Program, encompassing the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Science in Industrial Administration (MSIA), and Master of Science in Human Resource Management (MSHRM) programs.

One especially positive outcome of using the BSTAM method is that the course instructors have a much better understanding of the attributes of each class. The course instructor’s work with an MBTI expert in the Center for Career Opportunities at Purdue University who suggests criteria for use with the MBTI data, reviews the MBTI data for the teams assembled by the program, and provides a debriefing session to the class on attributes of the various MBTI types. Most importantly, guidelines are presented to the faculty and students for understanding and working with individuals in the teams as the semester progresses.

The authors have now successfully used this assignment method three spring offerings of this course. With experience, the input data are refined to more closely achieve the desired goals. Students are told about the process when the assignments to the teams are announced. They generally appreciate the considerations in making the assignments and do not argue for changes. While performance of the teams in the past two years has been quite good, there is still a spread in quality of the final design products among teams.

This paper provides some background on the course and the need for using a system for assignment of individuals to teams. It shares the knowledge gained in choosing the data to be used and in setting criteria and penalty functions for the various items. The Excel-based software is available for use by others.

Experiences and tools used to evaluate team and individual performances are described. While improvements can always be made, this system allows for forming reasonably balanced teams based on criteria important to functioning in the course.

Drnevich, V., & Norris, J. (2007, June), Assigning Civil Engineering Students To Capstone Course Teams Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2007

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