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Group Selection Techniques For A Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Project Course

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Teams and Teamwork in Design II

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.656.1 - 13.656.11



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Paper Authors

author page

Gregory Watkins California State University, Chico

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

Group Selection Techniques for a Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Project Course


The mechanical engineering program at California State University Chico utilizes a two- semester capstone course in senior design project. It is required that students perform the project work in groups, as that is a measured outcome in the course. Assigning students to groups has long been problematic, with no satisfactory solution despite numerous attempted methodologies.

A new paradigm for the assignment of student groups was implemented in the fall of 2007. Typical design team roles were identified based on Belbin’s research into the deliberation process. Students were asked to identify their preferred roles on a design team, as well as their preferred projects to work on. Projects teams were then formed by the faculty using the information supplied by the students.

This paper details the process of team selection and the measures taken to assess its effectiveness. It summarizes the overall success of the paradigm, and provides suggestions for future use.

Overview of Senior Design Project

As with many engineering programs, the mechanical engineering curriculum at California State University Chico utilizes a two-semester capstone course in senior design project. The intent is for students to utilize competencies developed in the first three years of the curriculum in the solution of a real-world design problem. The fall semester is predominantly spent in design activities, while the spring encompasses prototype building and testing. Projects may come from local industry, may be competition based, or may come from other sources.

During the fall semester, weekly lectures are given that cover many aspects of the design process. Selected topics include specifications definition, conceptual design, decision making, project planning, cost estimating, budgets, documentation and formal reports. Students are required to give three oral presentations during the semester. The presentation topics are project proposal, midterm review, and final design. The semester concludes with submission of a comprehensive design report.

The spring semester includes less time in the classroom and more time spent building and testing the designs. Students are required to develop a comprehensive test plan to prove the specifications developed in the fall semester. They then fabricate and test the design, and in most cases, proceed directly to redesign activities. The semester concludes with a final oral presentation and submission of a comprehensive written report.

Watkins, G. (2008, June), Group Selection Techniques For A Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Project Course Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4300

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