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Equipping Multi Disciplinary Student Teams To Manage Multi Semester Design Projects

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Design and the Community

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.578.1 - 10.578.16



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Paper Authors

author page

Leah Jamieson

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Carla Zoltowski

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

Equipping Multi-disciplinary Student Teams to Manage Multi-Semester Design Projects

Carla Zoltowski, William Oakes, Leah Jamieson Purdue University

Introduction A challenge facing many institutions is how to bring “real” design experiences into the curriculum. Introducing “real” design experiences, where the purpose is to expose students to open ended problems and multiple solution paths and to encourage creativity, into the classroom, brings many concerns for the faculty. These include guiding the students through the design process over multiple semesters with multidisciplinary and vertically integrated teams that change from semester to semester. Additional challenges are introduced when the projects are driven by an external customer with their own needs and timetables.

At Purdue University, the EPICS - Engineering Projects in Community Service – program does this through long-term team projects that solve technology-based problems for local non-profit community service organizations. The program currently has 29 project teams with over 400 students participating during the 2004-05 academic year. Each EPICS team consists of eight to 20 undergraduate students, a local community service organization that functions as its customer and a faculty and/or industrial adviser. The teams are multidisciplinary; they are composed of students from 20 majors across engineering and the university. The teams are vertically- integrated; each is a mix of freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors.

To manage the large number of projects and teams that extend across semesters, the EPICS program has developed a design and documentation process to guide students through their designs and to insure that both the community partner’s needs are being address and the transition between semesters is managed. This paper will highlight this design and documentation process and present lessons learned and future challenges using this model for design education.

Introduction The importance of significant design experiences to prepare undergraduate engineering students for engineering careers has been well-documented 1, 2. These experiences typically emphasize the application of the technical skills as well as the professional or "softer" skills such as communication, working as a team and customer interaction 3-5. The need for such experiences has spawned many innovative approaches to senior capstone design courses 6, 7 as well as design courses for underclassmen 8-11. The most common model for these courses has been a one semester experience intended to give the students an intense exposure to the design process.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Jamieson, L., & Zoltowski, C., & Oakes, W. (2005, June), Equipping Multi Disciplinary Student Teams To Manage Multi Semester Design Projects Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15061

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