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Effect Of Project Definition On The Success Of Student Team Design Projects

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Conference

2008 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Design in the Classroom

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count

10

Page Numbers

13.465.1 - 13.465.10

DOI

10.18260/1-2--4421

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/4421

Download Count

64

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Paper Authors

author page

John Wesner Carnegie Mellon University

author page

Michael Bigrigg Carnegie Mellon University

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

Effect of Project Definition On the Success of Student Team Design Projects

Abstract

Student teams carrying out sponsored engineering design projects achieve widely varying results in a single semester, ranging from research without any real design proposal, through one or more paper proposals, all the way to a functional prototype. Comparing team results with the clarity with which the sponsor defined the project shows strong correlation. This suggests that course faculty can positively increase sponsor satisfaction (and thus willingness to sponsor further projects) by working with the sponsors to develop clear and concise project definitions that provide real opportunities for student creativity.

Introduction

We have previously described1 a course sponsored by the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES) at Carnegie Mellon University (a continuation of the former NSF-funded Engineering Design Research Center, EDRC): this is a project-based engineering design course that is open not only to Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering students, but also to the entire campus community.

Carnegie Mellon’s Engineering Design Projects Course is unique because it allows teams of upper class and graduate students from several academic areas, including the humanities, business, and fine arts in addition to various engineering disciplines, to work on design projects sponsored by industries, government agencies, non-profits, or organizations within the university. The intent is to give the participating students a hands-on, integrative, multidisciplinary creative experience in the important field of engineering design.

The success of this course is attested to by several project sponsors returning for repeated semesters with additional problems to be addressed by student teams, and by some students taking the course for a second time, usually working on different projects. Students also indicate that discussions during successful job interviews have focused on this course experience.

A key to this success is providing the student teams with projects that are realistic, useful to their sponsors, and of such a scope that the students can make meaningful progress in one semester, feeling good about what they have accomplished and, at the same time, insuring that project deliverables are of value to the sponsors. Experience has shown that the student teams carrying out these sponsored engineering design projects achieve widely varying results in a single semester, ranging from research without any real design proposal, through one or more paper proposals, all the way to a functional prototype. Comparing team results with the clarity with which the sponsor defined the project shows strong correlation. This suggests that course faculty can positively increase sponsor satisfaction (and thus willingness to sponsor further projects) by working with the sponsors to develop clear and complete project definitions.

Wesner, J., & Bigrigg, M. (2008, June), Effect Of Project Definition On The Success Of Student Team Design Projects Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4421

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