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Creating An Industrial Setting In An Engineering Lab

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.175.1 - 3.175.13



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Paper Authors

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Paul Duesing

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Morrie Walworth

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Jim Devaprasad

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Ray Adams

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David McDonald

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

Session 2563

Creating an Industrial Setting in an Engineering Lab

Jim Devaprasad, Ray Adams, Paul Duesing, David McDonald, Morrie Walworth Lake Superior State University


Engineering schools across the nation have worked diligently to develop capstone courses to provide undergraduate senior students a smooth transition from university to industry. In addition to this capstone experience, engineering students could be introduced to the expectations of industry earlier in their curriculum. An understanding of the industrial environment is provided to Lake Superior State University (LSSU) students in the junior year through some of the engineering lab courses. An overall goal in these courses is to entail the critical thinking skills of the students to solve problems through open-ended lab assignments that are not completely defined. A project will be given to the student (the project engineer) from the faculty (the project manager) in the form of an industrial memo. The timelines and minimum expected outcomes of the project will be defined in the memo. Completion of the project satisfying only the minimum outcomes is considered average performance thereby encouraging students to explore other considerations and outcomes for a superior evaluation. Both objective and subjective measures are used for student evaluation.

Other aspects of this method of instruction involves development and use of industry type communication skills and team skills. Students are initially apprehensive of the industrial setting in the lab but become self-sufficient and independent as the semester progresses. As the faculty take the approach of a busy project manager, there is less time spent in supervising and guiding of students in the lab particularly during the latter half of the semester. This method of instruction has been implemented in the lab component of several engineering and engineering technology courses at LSSU. Apart from describing the unique features of this instructional strategy, the paper presents two examples of projects used in two junior level engineering lab courses.

I. Introduction

In recent years, there has been considerable discussion and dialog regarding the competency gaps of graduating engineers that need to be filled by educational institutions1. Several professional organizations and similar groups have sought input from engineers and managers from industry to determine the skills that employers demand of graduating engineers2-4. The results of these studies show that competency gaps in graduates usually fall under the following categories: communication skills, teamwork and interpersonal skills, creative problem solving skills, and leadership5. In general, these skills have been referred to as soft skills.

Duesing, P., & Walworth, M., & Devaprasad, J., & Adams, R., & McDonald, D. (1998, June), Creating An Industrial Setting In An Engineering Lab Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7002

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