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Competitive Placement of Engineering Students on Multiyear Project Teams

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Experiential Learning

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.303.1 - 24.303.15



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Paper Authors


Harold R Underwood Messiah College

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Dr. Underwood received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at UIUC in 1989, and has been a faculty member of the Engineering Department at Messiah College since 1992. Besides teaching Circuit Analysis, Electromagnetics, and Communications Systems, he supervises students in the Communications Technology Group on the credited Integrated Projects Curriculum (IPC) track and those participating voluntarily via the Collaboratory for Strategic Parnternships and Applied Research. His on-going projects include improving Flight Tracking and Messaging for small planes in remote
locations, and developing an assistive communication technology involving Wireless Enabled Remote Co-presence for
cognitively and behaviorally challenged individuals.

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Donald George Pratt Messiah College

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Competitive Placement of Engineering Students on Multiyear Project TeamsMultiyear, multidisciplinary service-oriented projects have become prevalent inengineering curricula, providing students with the opportunity to meet real world needs,as a way to apply some things they have learned in the classroom, and often go beyondthe level of course material. One challenge for such an approach is to balance studentcandidate interest with the skill-set needs of ongoing project teams by an effective meansof team formation. Project team formation methods addressed in the literature haveincluded automated assignment, random selection, an algorithmic approach, and othersincluding one that utilizes a mix of student and instructor inputs. At our institution, wehave explored a competitive placement procedure that mimics the job search processstudents will experience after graduation. During the first week of the semester, studentteam leaders post online job descriptions and make presentations to prospective studentsto market their teams. Prospective students write resumes and cover letters, which theysubmit to the teams of their choice. Student team members sort through these resumes,looking to add new team members with the skills and interests that will benefit theirteams. At the end of the second week, a Job Fair is held, with one-on-one interactions,interviews, and simulated “plant trips.” The next few days brings a flurry of job offers,acceptances and rejections, with many of the same dilemmas found in a real job search,e.g., team leaders trying to decide how many offers to extend, or a prospective studentwondering how long to wait before accepting a second choice offer while hoping the firstchoice will materialize. Not only do student candidates and project team leaders getexposed to the dynamics of a real job search, but the competitive approach optimizes thematch between student interest and project needs, with the selection process resting morefully in the hands of those who must live with the choices. This paper will describedetails of the competitive placement approach, results of our experience, lessons learnedand recommendations for others who might wish to implement it.

Underwood, H. R., & Pratt, D. G. (2014, June), Competitive Placement of Engineering Students on Multiyear Project Teams Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20194

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