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Cultural Accommodation in Virtual Engineering Academic Teams

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Conference

2014 ASEE International Forum

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 14, 2014

Start Date

June 14, 2014

End Date

June 14, 2014

Conference Session

Track 1 - Session 1

Tagged Topic

Curriculum and Lab Development

Page Count

8

Page Numbers

20.10.1 - 20.10.8

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/17173

Download Count

82

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Paper Authors

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Andras Gordon Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Andras Gordon is an Instructor of Engineering Design in the School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs, College of Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University.

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Richard J Schuhmann Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Richard F. Devon Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Andrew Michael Erdman The Pennsylvania State University

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Ahmad Atieh Taibah Univeristy

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Ahmad Atieh had received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from University of Ottawa in 1997, M. Sc. from Jordan University of Science and Technology in 1987, and B. SC. degree from Yarmouk University in 1985. His fields of expertise are in optical fiber telecommunication systems, nonlinear optics, optical amplifiers and renewable energy. He worked at the National Research Council of Canada, JDS Uniphase Inc and BTI Systems Inc in Canada. He has over 55 publications and over 20 issued patent and patent pending.

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Peter Dietrich Corvinus University Budapest

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Peter Dietrich is an Instructor at Corvinus University Budapest, Hungary.

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Abstract

2014 ASEE International Forum: Indianapolis, Indiana Jun 14 Paper ID #10995Cultural Accommodation and Integration in International Virtual Teams inan Engineering CourseMr. Andras Gordon, Pennsylvania State University, University Park Andras Gordon is an Instructor of Engineering Design in the School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs, College of Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University.Mr. Andrew Michael Erdman, The Pennsylvania State UniversityDr. Richard J Schuhmann, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyDr. Richard F. Devon, Pennsylvania State University, University ParkDr. Ahmad Atieh, Taibah Univeristy Ahmad Atieh had received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from University of Ottawa in 1997, M. Sc. from Jordan University of Science and Technology in 1987, and B. SC. degree from Yarmouk University in 1985. His fields of expertise are in optical fiber telecommunication systems, nonlinear optics, optical amplifiers and renewable energy. He worked at the National Research Council of Canada, JDS Uniphase Inc and BTI Systems Inc in Canada. He has over 55 publications and over 20 issued patent and patent pending. c American Society for Engineering Education, 2014 Cultural Accommodation and Integration in International Virtual Teams in an Engineering CourseThe widespread availability of communication technologies and tools makes it possible forgeographically dispersed and culturally diverse expert groups to collaborate productively andachieve optimal solutions for non-local clients. Understanding how to manage virtual teams is anessential engineering leadership skill.A course has been developed in which US engineering students work together with universitystudents from Europe and the Middle East. These teams are tasked, within an academic semester,to develop conceptual engineering and business solutions for remote customers.During the semester, international student groups experience the challenges of establishingeffective working relationships over long distances and maintaining their teams cohesion overthe duration of their projects. While intercultural virtual student teams are eager to advance intheir assigned tasks, it is vital for them to first understand the challenges presented by the mix ofcultures. For the team to work effectively, there must be mutual trust and understanding.The post-course student feedback on the value of this collaboration experience is generallypositive, but additional enhancement opportunities exist. We hypothesize that we can improveteam performance if students learn to appreciate the ways in which the culture and worldviews ofthe team members affect the team’s decision-making and performance. This means students mustfirst understand their own cultural orientation and worldview and how representative it is of theirhome country, then achieve a similar understanding of the other team members. In this way,students recognize when virtual cross-cultural teams require cultural and personalaccommodation and integration in order to accomplish the tasks at hand. This is a globalleadership skill, and developing this skill requires culture and worldview metrics.We will report on an evaluation instrument, developed based in part on the well-regardedapproaches by G. Hofstede, R. Lewis and E. Hall. The instrument is applied at the beginning ofthe semester, before students at three universities get to know each other and begin their jointproject work. At the end of semester, upon completion of the project work, students in all threelocations complete an exit evaluation instrument. We expect that this pre and post assessmentwill help them understand how their culture and world view may influence team performanceduring the project, and to what extent they personally may be influenced through exposure toother world views and by responding to the demands of the project. We hope to see enhancedself-knowledge and cross-cultural learning, which will help them run culturally accommodatingand integrating teams in the future.

Gordon, A., & Schuhmann, R. J., & Devon, R. F., & Erdman, A. M., & Atieh, A., & Dietrich, P. (2014, June), Cultural Accommodation in Virtual Engineering Academic Teams Paper presented at 2014 ASEE International Forum, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/17173

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