June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Electrical and Computer
13.337.1 - 13.337.7
Cooperative Methodology for Successful Integration of Undergraduate and Graduate Research Projects
The effectiveness of integrating a structured undergraduate senior design course with the relative freedom of an individual graduate research project is presented in this paper. A cooperative methodology is outlined which serves to ensure that the project is appropriately distributed throughout the entire research team. Benefits of this team integration technique are documented and it is shown that all parties involved are rewarded accordingly. For example, the undergraduate student gains not only technical information from the graduate student, but also the opportunity to learn from a fellow engineering student who has previously completed similar senior design curriculum. The graduate student gains the ability to accomplish a greater amount of research in a shorter amount of time by paralleling project tasks through the efforts of the undergraduate students. The university benefits by providing the project sponsor with a final product that far exceeds their expectations. Along with the benefits, this paper also presents specific problems that may arise due to combining undergraduate and graduate students into a single, cohesive research team. These problems include the definition of leadership roles and an even distribution of workload. In conclusion, these problems will be shown to pale in comparison to the benefits of creating an integrated research team.
The objective of this paper is to document the potential benefits and pitfalls of integrating a senior design research project and a graduate level research project. The data and perspectives presented in this paper are a result of the first hand experience of an electrical engineering graduate student, referred to as the subject throughout this paper, who has had the opportunity to work with two different senior design teams. The main advantage of this single subject study is that the authors are able to uncover specific characteristics of the integrated research team approach without delving into generalizations where only the average viewpoint prevails1. Conversely, the results obtained from a single subject study may not properly lend themselves to accurate generalizations and should not be applied blindly to all situations. Therefore, the authors of this paper impress upon the reader the succinctness of this study.
As a point of clarity, it should be noted that the subject occupied two distinct roles within each senior design team that he worked with. For the first research project, the subject spent the first semester of the senior design course as a graduate mentor to an undergraduate research team2. At the start of the second semester of the project, the subject essentially became an additional member of the design team and was truly integrated alongside the undergraduate team members. For the second research project3, the subject served only as a graduate mentor for the senior design team and did not become as involved as in the first project. Numerous papers have been written detailing the benefits and effectiveness of graduate mentoring for senior design curriculum4,5, as well as mentoring in general6,7. This paper is not intended to negate those findings in any way. This paper is simply intended to show that a truly integrated design team
Klein, J., & Hess, H., & Johnson, B. (2008, June), Cooperative Methodology For Successful Integration Of Undergraduate And Graduate Research Projects Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3126
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