June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Design in Engineering Education
12.809.1 - 12.809.18
Hosting/Participating in Global Collaborative PACE Projects
Certain obstacles must be overcome in order to realize the benefits of large-scale collaboration projects. Undergraduate engineering curricula currently do not include projects of sufficient scope and diversity to introduce students to the challenges and lessons inherent to participation in global collaborative design projects. Engineering students today largely graduate with little or no skills or experience working on an international team. Universities need to take steps to institute international collaboration projects that prepare undergraduate students for engineering work in the twenty-first century.
Participating in an international collaboration project is a daunting task for a school that has never worked globally before, and launching or hosting such a project likely seems almost impossible because of the numerous obstacles. In 2005-2006, GM/PACE (Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education) sponsored the first international vehicle collaboration project, a senior capstone project that demonstrated how global-scale projects effectively prepare students for future exposure to large-scale collaboration projects in industry. The most important results of this pioneering project were the lessons learned about global collaboration. Sharing these lessons with other schools will facilitate participation in or hosting of global projects.
Using the international vehicle collaboration design project as a case study, this paper will focus on the requirements needed to either host a global collaboration project or be a participant. Because the success of the project depends on effective communication, it will be the primary focus of the recommendations. First, the necessary software and hardware requirements will be outlined, with a focus on collaborative tools. Next, the various types of training needed for students to become completely involved will be described. Finally, other keys to success will be explained: defining overall and local objectives early in the project and tailoring the project requirements at each site to the school’s resources and goals.
In recent years there has been a movement among large universities to offer students a global experience. However, this movement has been stagnated in the engineering arena by the lack of available resources and instruction in collaboration and working together in a global context. Typically, mechanical engineering capstone classes place students from one school with an industrial company. It has been generally thought that the design and build nature of engineering capstone is so complex that adding multiple companies or teams from a variety of universities would only add chaos to confusion. However, this challenge is faced daily by real world engineers as they work with colleagues, suppliers, subcontractors, etc. from around the world. The “future of many firms will depend upon their flexibility and quick responsiveness”1, especially in regard to global collaboration2. Engineering students who are able to hone collaboration skills during their university experience will have a great advantage in the workforce.
Giullian, N., & Jensen, C. G., & McCammon, J., & Brooks, B. (2007, June), Hosting/Participating In Global Collaborative Pace Projects Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2512
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