Asee peer logo

Competitions As A Vehicle For Teaching Engineering Design

Download Paper |


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

4.134.1 - 4.134.7

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Parviz Famouri

author page

Heather Collier

author page

Brian Inman

author page

Wils L. Cooley

Download Paper |

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

Session 2525


Wils L. Cooley, Parviz Famouri, Heather D. Collier, Brian Inman West Virginia University


The Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at WVU has had an engineering Senior Design Project sequence for nearly 25 years. During the 1997-98 sequence, one undergraduate student design team participated in an IEEE regional design competition. The team members chose their project specifically with the intention of entering their design in this regional competition, in contrast to selecting it from a traditionally compiled list of non- competitive design projects.

This paper describes the experiences of members of the design team as well as the faculty directly involved with the project and the design project sequence. We discuss the use of a competition as a vehicle for teaching design as having several inherent advantages over having each team work on a completely distinct project. Advantages include the possibility of comparatively and objectively evaluating the design ability of each team, and the extremely valuable reflective learning which takes place as the teams discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of the various designs seen at the competition. We also discuss the disadvantages to such an approach, which may be severe enough to preclude its use.

We conclude that overall, the use of competition as an approach to teaching design is an excellent experience for those involved, in that it gives students experience with teamwork and introduces them to practical problem solving situations. It also seems to bring out their best technically. We conclude further that the use of design competitions for course projects should be encouraged, but that it should not be the only available option, based on some of the weaknesses discussed.


IEEE Region 2 has had a Student Paper Contest for many years. In 1996, Dr. Famouri, the new IEEE Region 2 Student Activity Chair elected to develop a student design competition similar to design competitions in other IEEE regions. Such contests likely began at MIT with the 1 2 development of the Micromouse contest in 1979 . Design competitions remain popular at MIT , 3,4 and have spread around the world . West Virginia University volunteered to host the competition for the first year in conjunction with the paper contest, which was held in Morgantown on April 8 and 9, 1998. It will be held at Penn State Erie in 1999. Student members of IEEE at WVU agreed to design the contest, build the contest playing field, and to design a robot to compete in the contest but not be eligible for a prize. Teams from Cedarville College,

Famouri, P., & Collier, H., & Inman, B., & Cooley, W. L. (1999, June), Competitions As A Vehicle For Teaching Engineering Design Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1999 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015