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Building Teammates: Bringing Better Team Skills To Design Courses

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Teaching Teaming Skills Through Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.275.1 - 7.275.13



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Paper Authors

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John Feland

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Session 2525

Building Teammates: Bringing Better Team Skills to Design Courses

J. M. Feland

Stanford University


In the past ten years there has a large push from industry to improve the quality of engineering graduates entering the profession. One of the key deficiencies identified by industry is the tremendous lack of team working skills commanded by new engineers. 1 Last year the National Academy of Engineering recommended that engineering schools “make engineering leadership a principal focus” and develop graduates “who can lead real and virtual teams.” 2 To address this need there has been a vast amount of research pursued regarding what makes a good engineering design team, typically focused on factors other than skill-set. The researchers have then proposed various recipes for creating the ideal design team based on various personality or thinking style indicators. Unfortunately corporations in industry do not always have the freedom to assemble the ideal design team based on these personality assessments. In most business settings, teams are formed based on skills sets required for the tasks and which human resources happen to be available at the time. Though insightful, the current research into design team recipes has not taken into account those constraints.

The approach taken by professors at the United States Air Force Academy was to look at the basic unit of the team, the individual, and equip the individual with the skills and tools necessary to work in any combination of personality styles. If the military trained only for the best of conditions, they would not be very effective at defending the nation. The same analogy can be applied to engineering students. By equipping students to cope with any situation, they not only excel in the perfectly formed teams but also in the teams where challenges arise. The later is more likely to occur outside the university environment than the former. These new lessons

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Feland, J. (2002, June), Building Teammates: Bringing Better Team Skills To Design Courses Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10451

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