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Board 63: Work in Progress: Adapting Scrum Project Management to ECE Courses

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

ECE Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Branimir Pejcinovic Portland State University

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Branimir Pejcinovic received his Ph.D. degree from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is a Professor and former Associate Chair for Undergraduate Education at Portland State University, Electrical and Computer Engineering department. In this role, he has led department-wide changes in the curriculum with emphasis on the project- and lab-based instruction and learning. His research interests are in the areas of engineering education, semiconductor device characterization, design and simulation, signal integrity and THz sensors. He is a member of IEEE and ASEE.

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Phillip Wong Portland State University

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Phillip Wong received an M.S. degree in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1990. Since then, he has been with Portland State University, Oregon, USA, where he is currently the ECE Lab Coordinator and an instructor.

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Robert Bass Portland State University Orcid 16x16

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Robert Bass, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Portland State University. His research focuses on electrical power systems, particularly distributed utility assets and the overlaying control and communications architectures that link them together. Dr. Bass specializes in teaching undergraduate and graduate courses on electric power, electromechanical energy conversion, distributed energy resources, control theory and power systems analysis.

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Scrum is a popular form of Agile project management. Its applications now include diverse areas such as software development, engineering, urban planning, and law. Scrum has also been used in software engineering educational programs, but its use in other engineering education is lagging. Within our electrical and computer engineering program, we introduced Scrum to help students improve their teamwork efficacy in projects and courses. Earlier, we have presented some initial experiences and observations when implementing Scrum in ECE courses. In this paper we will elaborate on how Scrum is applied across different years and how we scaffold student learning. Scrum methodology consists of (see

● Members: product owner, Scrum master, and development team ● Events: sprint planning, daily stand-up, sprint review, and sprint retrospective ● Artifacts: product and sprint backlog ● Definitions and rules governing Scrum implementation

We cannot expect freshman or sophomore engineering students to have the sophistication necessary for full implementation of Scrum. Furthermore, Scrum in educational environments is a teaching and learning tool, and it needs to be modified from its original design. Scrum involves teams, so we have to support other educational goals, such as teaching students how to engage in effective teamwork.

Our learning goals related to Scrum are grouped into four areas: A) developing projects and their components, B) applying Scrum, C) utilizing project management tools, D) running effective teams.

Freshman students should A. Show basic skills in breaking down given assignments into team tasks B. Be able to show concrete evidence of planning their projects C. Learn the basics of project planning tools D. Learn how to run team-based projects with minimal team conflict

Sophomore/junior students should A. Develop projects from a starting idea and be able to decompose it functionally B. Begin to apply Scrum methodology more fully C. Effectively use project planning tools D. Develop deeper understanding of team dynamics

Senior (capstone) students should A. Fully develop projects with clear functionality, specifications and deliverables; adjust project goals to changing customer requirements B. Implement full Scrum methodology C. Be fluent in using project planning tools D. Have very clear expectations and rules that lead to effective teamwork

Scrum for freshman students is stripped down to frequent meetings similar to daily Scrums, basic task planning, and maintaining a record of their plans using Trello. Faculty serve as product owners and there is no assigned scrum master. Sophomore and junior students are explained the basics of Scrum, decide on their own project, and are assigned an outside Scrum master. They are expected to develop product backlogs and run proper sprints. Senior students work on capstone projects with real customers, product owners, and scrum masters. In other words, they implement full Scrum methodology.

In the full paper we will provide examples of assignments and scaffolding used in different years, along with assessment methodology and initial results. We hope that our experience and information provided will enable others to implement Scrum in their courses and programs.

Pejcinovic, B., & Wong, P., & Bass, R. (2019, June), Board 63: Work in Progress: Adapting Scrum Project Management to ECE Courses Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32395

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