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Distance Collaboration In A Design Project For Students Enrolled In Introduction To Engineering

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.466.1 - 9.466.13

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Paper Authors

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Jack Leifer

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Jamey Jacob

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

Distance Collaboration in a Design Project for Students Enrolled in Introduction to Engineering

Jack Leifer and Jamey D. Jacob

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506

Abstract: Over the past several decades, the design of any complex engineering system has become a task typically requiring the efforts of many, rather than of a single individual. Moreover, a team working on one project may be distributed over a number of locations throughout a company, as engineers possessing specialized skills required for the job may not all be located at the main project site. In order to ensure success, all personnel associated with a particular project must remain in close contact regardless of their physical location as work progresses. While engineers working in geographically-distributed teams travel among facilities from time to time to consult with their colleagues, most routine, everyday communications among team members is conducted regularly through a variety of electronic means. Few, if any, engineering programs prepare their students for working with non-collocated peers, despite the increasing prevalence of geographically-distributed teams in industry. For this reason, we are implementing such an effort at the University of Kentucky, through an NSF-funded CCLI project in which freshmen engineering students work as members of geographically-distributed design teams. A total of twelve students enrolled in the Introduction to Engineering course (EGR101) at either the University of Kentucky’s Lexington or Paducah campuses were placed in three teams of four, each consisting of subgroups of two students from each location. The teams were charged with designing a 25:1 gear-reduction assembly using solid-modeling software and fabricating their design using the rapid prototyping equipment provided to each location as part of the NSF grant. The students were required to divide the design so that each subgroup was responsible for a predetermined part of the assembly, and to log all communications between each subgroup. Synchronous meetings between the non-collocated subgroups were conducted mostly by telephone, although videoconferencing facilities were made available. Asynchronous communications modes such as e-mail and facsimile were also heavily utilized. The experiences of the students working in the distributed groups were compared with those working in the collocated teams (control) by evaluating their communications logs, design notebooks, working prototypes and survey responses.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Leifer, J., & Jacob, J. (2004, June), Distance Collaboration In A Design Project For Students Enrolled In Introduction To Engineering Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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