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Changing A 4 Th Year Team Design Project Course To Meet New Expectations From Regular And Returning Internship Students

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.122.1 - 4.122.7

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Paper Authors

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A. Eberlein

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M. R. Smith

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

Session 1432

Changing a 4th Year Team Design Project Course to meet expectations from Regular and Returning Internship Students

M. R. Smith and A. Eberlein University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Over the past two years, our Department has taken a unique approach to meet Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board requirements for a compulsory 4th year design project. Rather than allowing loose interaction between group members, we attempted to formally introduce the team forming techniques required in industry. The students are introduced to “the theory, practice and experience of project management”. In this paper we shall report on the current format of the course and how it overcomes many of the problems with our initial offering. Although only part way through the second offering, we recognize the need for new changes in order to account for the increased maturity and experience of the students returning from their 16-month internship experience. The changes needed to handle the 80% of our students who will return from internship in September 1999 are discussed.

1. Introduction

Two years ago the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) placed a requirement that all engineering students experience an extensive 4th year design project. With accreditation looming, the Department put on an experimental team project plan with the forty 4th year students who had not taken advantage of our Faculty’s 16-month internship program between 3rd and 4th year.

In this paper, we report on the current format of the team design project courses and how we have attempted to overcome the difficulties from the first year’s offering. Although only partway through our second year, we can already recognize a new problem. About half of our project enrolment involves students who have come back from their 16-month industrial internship. Next year, provided there is not a significant down turn in the economy, we expect this ratio to rise to closer to 75% -- 85%. These students have an increased maturity and different experiences from our regular students. The returning students claim considerable, informal, exposure to project management concepts. We detail how we will attempt to balance the course to take advantage of these experiences.

2. Outline of the Basic Team Design Project Course

Figure 1 provides curriculum details for our current team design project course. The format of our 3½ day Block Course was designed around the concept of a business seminar with speakers. There were opportunities to experience the initial stages of team forming built around sponsored meals and BarBeQues.

Eberlein, A., & Smith, M. R. (1999, June), Changing A 4 Th Year Team Design Project Course To Meet New Expectations From Regular And Returning Internship Students Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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