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Lessons Learned From Teaching Industry Based Senior Projects

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.683.1 - 6.683.10



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Paper Authors

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Robert Anderson

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Paul Duesing

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Marty Zoerner

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Kevin Schmaltz

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

Session 3266

Lessons Learned from Teaching Industry-Based Senior Projects

Kevin Schmaltz and Paul Duesing Lake Superior State University

Robert Anderson Continental Teves, Inc.

Marty Zoerner Northern Diecast

I. Introduction

A two-semester senior engineering design course sequence has been used at Lake Superior State University (LSSU) for more than a decade to develop ties with industry and to give our graduates a taste of real-life project engineering. Over the past five academic years, nearly 220 multidisciplinary engineering seniors have completed 36 projects, controlling budgets totaling approximately $1.1 million. This paper describes our continuing effort to involve industry with engineering education. The projects are proposed, funded and ultimately delivered to industry. An industry contact person is the leader in determining the goals, the acceptance criteria, and the project requirements. Communication between faculty, industry contact person and students is vital to ensure success. The faculty advisor is a coach, consultant, and evaluator of the students. The students will not graduate until they meet the criteria specified by the customer, i.e. the industrial contact, as well as the educational criteria set forth by the Senior Project Faculty Board (SPFB). In the setting suggested here, failure is not an option, and the student team must deliver1. The authors of this paper have either coordinated and directed student teams, or have acted as industrial contacts for one or more teams. The guiding philosophy behind our industry-based capstone senior design course sequence includes industry origination, a business setting and the teaching of non-technical (soft) skills. Industry projects demand real solutions, as well as provide actual budgets and definite time constraints. To set a business tone, we provide all of the teams with a shared office space (cubicles, computers, phones, etc.), fostering a common work environment and sense of community. Non-technical skills such as team building, communication, project planning and creative problem solving are key components of the first semester of the course. While each project includes technical demands, it is usually the non-technical issues that make or break projects2. This paper discusses the structure of LSSU’s two-semester course sequence and the timing of team assignments from September project initiation to May project completion

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Anderson, R., & Duesing, P., & Zoerner, M., & Schmaltz, K. (2001, June), Lessons Learned From Teaching Industry Based Senior Projects Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9512

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