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Incorporating Project Management Methods Into Engineering Design Projects: A Spreadsheet Based Approach

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Teaching Teaming Skills Through Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.718.1 - 9.718.15



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Paper Authors

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Gul Okudan

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Madara Ogot

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

Session 3625

Incorporating Project Management Methods into Engineering Design Projects: A Spreadsheet-based Approach

Madara M. Ogot and Gül E. Okudan School of Engineering Design and Professional Programs The Pennsylvania State University


This paper introduces a spreadsheet-based method of integrating project management techniques into project-based engineering courses. The use of a spreadsheet approach alleviates (1) the need for institutions to purchase additional commercial project management software and (2) additional training of faculty and students on how to use the software. Spreadsheet programs, for example Microsoft Excel, are already entrenched in college computer laboratories with students and faculty having familiarity with their use. We present our experiences in implementing this approach in one section (32 students) of a freshman introduction to engineering design course. A preliminary assessment is also presented.

1. Introduction

The use of team projects as a way to teach engineering design is pervasive across all engineering disciplines and throughout the curriculum. The success of any design team -- both in learning design concepts and performing well -- requires that students have a good grasp of technical and management aspects of the design process. Accordingly, poor management or lack of communication within a team and between teams and their faculty advisor/instructor will typically result in a mediocre project, no matter how technically proficient team members are. The importance of team management and common methods to achieve a successful design experience have been discussed1-4 . Common methods for project management include team calendars, work breakdown structures (WBS), Gantt/milestone charts and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) diagrams. This article does not introduce new management methods, but instead focuses on how these “textbook” methods can be effectively implemented using a common spreadsheet application, in this case Microsoft Excel (Excel).

Although commercial software is readily available to perform these tasks, such as Microsoft Project, their adoption in a classroom environment presents several challenges. These include: (1) design faculty may not know or feel inclined to learn how to use the software, (2) funds may not be available to purchase the software or use of existing funds would drain already meager resources and divert their use from other areas in the design curriculum, and (3) requiring an additional software tool may present an unwelcome burden for students, who are already required to learn and use a significant number of software tools – word processing, spreadsheets, programming, illustration, image Proceedings of the 2004 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition 1 Copyright © 2004, American Society of Engineering Education

Okudan, G., & Ogot, M. (2004, June), Incorporating Project Management Methods Into Engineering Design Projects: A Spreadsheet Based Approach Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13857

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