June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Electrical and Computer
14.620.1 - 14.620.11
Facilitating Vertically Integrated Design Teams
Engineering educators face daunting challenges in adapting their curricula to prepare students to prosper in the global economy. As technology continues to advance, there is a need to cover the latest technology without compromising the fundamentals that are so important for engineers. Multidisciplinary teams comprised of multiyear engineering students can be utilized to facilitate the broad sets of skills needed for success in engineering. These teams provide an opportunity for the students to learn communication and presentation skills, learn how to work in teams to solve problems, and interact with real customers, to mention a few. While working in multiyear teams, older students, seniors and juniors, mentor younger students to assist in developing leadership skills. The younger students are integrated into real engineering projects earlier in their careers giving them a genuine engineering experience that serves to address retention challenges facing many engineering programs. A challenge, however, is creating projects that both challenge the older students and allow the younger students to participate. At Purdue University, vertically integrated teams are brought together to address the needs identified in the local community. LabVIEW tools are utilized to allow the younger students to get up to speed on the projects and participate in areas such as data acquisition, data analysis, and microcontroller programming. This paper describes how the vertically integrated teams are formed, provides an overview of the processes that are used to integrate the teams, and provides specific examples of projects where these tools are utilized.
The importance of significant design experiences to prepare undergraduate engineering students for engineering careers has been well-documented1-4. These experiences typically emphasize the application of technical skills as well as professional skills, such as communication in both written and verbal form, working as a team, and customer interaction. The need for such experiences has spawned many innovative approaches to capstone senior design courses. However, capstone senior design courses do not include underclassmen. Earlier design experiences have become more common and have shown to be valuable in motivating students to continue in engineering programs4. Most courses of this type are confined to one academic period (e.g. semester or quarter) and are intended to give the students an intense exposure to the design process in a single engineering discipline, since these experiences typically involve students at one academic level from a single major.
An alternative model would involve combining students from varying levels (freshman through seniors) into multidisciplinary teams. Under this model, students would participate for several semesters or years on various projects. As the students progress from first and second-year students to junior and seniors, they take on more leadership roles. In such a model, the more senior students act as mentors for the younger students, helping to motivate them, while teaching them to apply the basic skills they are learning in their introductory and fundamental courses.
Bucks, G., & Oakes, W., & Richardson, J. (2009, June), Facilitating Vertically Integrated Design Teams Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5739
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