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Introducing Students To Total Quality Management Concepts In An Authentic Context

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.287.1 - 1.287.6



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Paper Authors

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Robert M. Baldwin

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Barbara Olds

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Ronald Miller

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

Session 3230

Introducing Students to Total Quality Management Concepts in an Authentic Context

Ronald L. Miller, Barbara M. Olds, and Robert M. Baldwin Colorado School of Mines

Summary First- and second-year engineering students at the Colorado School of Mines are introduced to open- ended problem-solving, technical oral and written communication, and team processes in the four semester EPICS (Engineering Practices Introductory Course Sequence) program. EPICS provides students with an experientially-based authentic context for solving real world projects for clients from industry and government and, thus, represents an ideal setting for introducing students to the ~ and practice of Total Quality Management (TQM). Rather than lecture about these topics, we introduce TQM concepts using a series of modules and then allow students to immediately adapt and apply these concepts as they complete project work for their customers. This paper will describe the TQM modules we have developed and illustrate how use of these modules has improved the quality of student project work in EPICS. We will also report data which measure changes in student attitudes and perceptions towards the value of TQM in problem-solving, team processes, and project management.

Introduction and Background U.S. firms must increasingly compete in international markets to survive and, as a result, the need for engineering graduates to understand and apply TQM principles has never been greater. Results from several recent surveys of U.S. business executives including one published in b magazine [1] consistently suggest that undergraduate engineering curricula are not doing enough to introduce students to “quality” as a key tenet of engineering practice. Gary Tooker, president of Motorola, has been quoted as saying “We’re not asking colleges to add courses; we want you to include a quality dimension to existing courses.” [1]

This comment suggests that we must do more than lecture to our students about TQM terminology, definitions, and theories. Rather, our students must be given the opportunity to actively practice these concepts in an authentic, team-based, project setting so that they can construct their own understanding and meaning about the validity and utility of TQM in their professional lives. For nearly 15 years, the Colorado School of Mines has introduced our first- and second-year students to “real-world” engineering practice in the EPICS program, and therefore, EPICS represents an ideal context in which to introduce students to authentic and meaningful applications of TQM to their project work. The objective of this paper is to briefly describe the EPICS program, describe how TQM concepts are introduced to engineering students in EPICS using “quality” modules, and discuss the effectiveness of the modules in improving students’ project work.

iii’ @lllQ ) 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings .

Baldwin, R. M., & Olds, B., & Miller, R. (1996, June), Introducing Students To Total Quality Management Concepts In An Authentic Context Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6149

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