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Board 261: Effectiveness of Vertically-Integrated Project Teams in Tackling an Engineering Grand Challenge

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors

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Avinash Danda


Bruce L Tai

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Dr. Tai is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor in 2011 and spent 4 years as research faculty on multidisciplinary manufacturing topics from healthcare to automot

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Vinayak Krishnamurthy


Mathew Kuttolamadom Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Mathew Kuttolamadom is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Technology & Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University. He received his Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering from Clemson University. His professional experience is in the automotive industry including at the Ford Motor Company. At TAMU, he teaches Mechanics, Manufacturing and Mechanical Design to his students. His research thrusts include bioinspired functionally-graded composites, additive/subtractive manufacturing
processes, and engineering education.

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This work details a multi-level and multi-disciplinary team approach to advance an Engineering Grand Challenge project and serves to evaluate its effectiveness and performance especially regarding the team makeup and experience.

The project administration, logistics, and activities were built on the AggiE-Challenge program platform, an initiative within the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University (TAMU). With the overarching goal to engage engineering undergraduates at various levels (freshmen to senior) in high-impact multi-disciplinary research challenges, vertically-integrated project (VIP) teams were constructed in lieu of the typical one-on-one mentoring of students for a more realistic, meaningful and effective engagement. VIPs unite undergraduate education and faculty research in a team-based context, whereby students earn academic credits and research experience, while furthering discovery. The extended team that was evaluated comprised of multiple faculty and graduate student mentors guiding a large multi-level undergraduate student team spanning multiple engineering departments. The prominent challenge was on enhancing virtual reality (VR) and involved the incorporation of haptic feedback and VR to detail the environment for minimally invasive surgery training. The team was successful in not only generating the knowledge and tools pertinent to advancing the problem but also in developing functional prototypes to address various aspects of the grand challenge.

The evaluation efforts involved assessing the effectiveness of VIP teams in providing enriching research experiences as well as measuring student inclination and/or intent to pursue advanced STEM study. In this capacity, research questions were asked to elucidate how the construction of the team affects its performance, how VIP affect learning experiences differently as compared to traditional one-on-one student mentoring as well as students’ inclinations to pursue advanced STEM study and careers. On gathering information via surveys and interviews, conclusions were drawn that highlighted the benefits of constructing and deploying such teams in contrast to traditional one-on-one research mentoring of a student. In general, students showed significant growth under the categories of understanding engineering design, problem solving, and communication, besides positive impacts on their post-graduation plans.

Danda, A., & Tai, B. L., & Krishnamurthy, V., & Kuttolamadom, M. (2023, June), Board 261: Effectiveness of Vertically-Integrated Project Teams in Tackling an Engineering Grand Challenge Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42708

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