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Creating and Validating a Model to Support Aerospace Engineering Students' Coordination of Knowledge about a Design

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Aerospace Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Elizabeth Scott Fleming Georgia Institute of Technology

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Elizabeth "Scottie-Beth" Fleming is an Aerospace Engineering PhD candidate and NSF GRFP Fellow in the Cognitive Engineering Center (CEC) at Georgia Tech. She graduated from Georgia Tech with a B.S. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering. Her research within the CEC examines interdisciplinary teams within the engineering design process, training approaches for aircraft pilots, and human interaction with technology.

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Amy Pritchett Georgia Institute of Technology

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Amy R. Pritchett is the Davis S. Lewis Associate Professor in the Georgia Tech School of Aerospace Engineering

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(Student Paper) Coordination is a mechanism by which multiple individuals align tasks, resources, and knowledge to make decisions during design. Within the design of an aerospace vehicle, coordination is essential to balance technical developments within disciplines and integration across disciplines. However, too often, aerospace engineering students lack the skills to effectively coordinate their preferences, constraints, and decisions. While effective coordination is required in the successful design of an aerospace vehicle, the skills required for coordinating knowledge about a design have yet to be explored within the literature. Previous research has investigated the impact of coordination in the context of high-stress, time-sensitive work environments, such as air traffic control, transportation systems, and emergency response systems. These work environments are typically supported by strict work protocols and processes intended to enable coordinating behaviors. Conversely, coordination in aerospace engineering design is driven by designers sharing pertinent knowledge as they deem necessary in an evolving design process, rather than by following explicit fixed protocols. Thus, the goal of this research is to define a model for coordination that can be articulated to, and used by novice aerospace engineers in the design of an aerospace vehicle. While educational research has previously examined the impact of communication and collaboration skills on student learning outcomes, few studies have incorporated an understanding of the impact of coordination skills on student performance in a team-oriented design course. This research explores how students approach coordination in an aerospace engineering capstone design course and compares their strategies to the coordination implicitly required by textbook design processes. In completing this research, the coordination inherent to the aerospace engineering design process was developed using textbooks commonly referenced in traditional aerospace engineering capstone courses. Indicators of coordination were identified at all stages in the design process using a qualitative coding scheme.

Fleming, E. S., & Pritchett, A. (2016, June), Creating and Validating a Model to Support Aerospace Engineering Students' Coordination of Knowledge about a Design Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26601

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