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Graduate Students Developing Teams Which Promote Technical And Non Technical Skills

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.607.1 - 8.607.9



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Paper Authors

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Steven Beyerlein

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Michael Klein

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Matt Walker

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Kevin Organ

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Dan Gerbus

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

Session 2793

Graduate Student Team Formation for Promoting Broad-Based Engineering Skills

Dan Gerbus, Michael Klein, Kevin Organ, Matt Walker, Steven Beyerlein, Edwin Odom, and Karl Rink

University of Idaho Mechanical Engineering


Graduate education is highly focused on the development of technical and analytical skills, but typically provides minimal experience in team formation and interpersonal growth. To assure a more balanced graduate school experience, Idaho Engineering Works (IEW) at the University of Idaho is formed of a diverse group of graduate students whose purpose is to develop an environment that fosters professional as well as technical excellence. This paper analyzes the actions taken each year by IEW leading to the formation of well-trained, collaborative, and highly- reflective cohort of graduate students that support design education. This team is developed through directed study courses, team projects, personal reflections and monumental technical and interpersonal challenges. Since 1994, IEW has been successful in delivering hardware that exceeds expectations of industry customers, shortening time frames required for large-scale design projects, enriching senior design mentoring, and expanding the number of members. Each academic year produces a unique engineering leadership experience that has lifetime impact for its members and a legacy of improved infrastructure for design education. In this paper, the teamwork model derived from Larson and LaFosto is used to reflect on the people, strategy, and operations that form the IEW. Based on this analysis, strengths of the IEW experience are unified commitment and creation of a collaborative environment while several improvements could be made to improve its results-driven structure.


Idaho Engineering Works (IEW) began as a way to improve the graduate experience. Traditionally, graduate students are paired with a member of the faculty with similar interests of study to work on research and complete a thesis. The student generally works exclusively within a group that specializes in such research, minimizing exposure to other engineering disciplines and insights. In fact, this pairing often discourages interaction with other students and certainly other professors. Unfortunately, this traditional arrangement does not adequately train graduates for today’s job market. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) conducted a survey that questioned corporations that employ manufacturing engineers and technologists1,7. This survey revealed that educational institutions fail to prepare graduates with necessary skills in project management, written and oral communication, and business management skills.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Beyerlein, S., & Klein, M., & Walker, M., & Organ, K., & Gerbus, D. (2003, June), Graduate Students Developing Teams Which Promote Technical And Non Technical Skills Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12045

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