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Managing Senior Projects: Educating Graduates And Undergraduates In A Senior Project Course

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

IE and EM Program Mangement

Tagged Division

Engineering Management

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1032.1 - 12.1032.9



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Paper Authors

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Michael Hagenberger Valparaiso University

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Peter Johnson Valparaiso University

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Doug Tougaw Valparaiso University

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Jeffrey Will Valparaiso University

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Mark Budnik Valparaiso University

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Kathleen Sevener Valparaiso University

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

Managing Senior Projects – Educating Graduates and Undergraduates in a Senior Project Course Abstract—All seniors in computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering at __________ University take a multidisciplinary senior design course. In the first week of the Fall semester, students are assigned to teams (based on their ranked preference), and each team is then given a project that contains both electrical and mechanical aspects. Some past projects have included competing in national design competitions, developing a student entrepreneurial project, creating a prototype for industry, advancing a National Science Foundation sponsored research project, or helping people in developing countries. Teams are typically made up of two to three electrical/computer engineering students and two to three mechanical engineering students. All teams have a primary advisor from one discipline and a secondary advisor from another discipline to balance the expertise available to each team. The structure of the course follows the design process from conception to a computational model of the design to the creation of a physical prototype. The loop is closed by requiring each team to test their prototype based on design requirements developed earlier in the design process.

In the summer of 2006, the College of Engineering and the College of Business Administration offered their first course in a new Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program. A unique aspect of this program is the MEM 625/626 course sequence. In this pair of courses, MEM graduate students become project managers for the senior design teams in the undergraduate, multidisciplinary senior design course described above. This has had numerous benefits for both programs. Undergraduates are now given an experience that more closely resembles that which many will find in industry upon graduation, while the graduate students are given a chance to practice the project management skills learned in their own coursework.

This paper describes the decisions made during the process of incorporating the graduate students into the undergraduate, senior projects course, the benefits of these choices, and the lessons learned throughout this process.

1. Introduction The engineering graduate of 2007 must demonstrate a wide variety of expertise, ranging from foundational knowledge in mathematics and science to critical thinking, creativity, design expertise, and communication skills. In addition to these abilities, it is becoming apparent that knowledge of business and management skills is also essential for the career-long success of an engineer.1-4 Engineering management can, in fact, be considered its own discipline, and a number of universities offer specific engineering management degrees that help students prepare to become both technically skilled and knowledgeable about managing other engineers in a professional setting.5-9 Even within traditional engineering programs, the importance of engineering management is emphasized in a variety of settings, including senior design projects10-12 and undergraduate research programs.13

With the ever-increasing curricular pressures on undergraduate engineering programs, it is difficult to see how significant engineering management could be incorporated without necessarily decreasing the emphasis on other areas of importance.14 Such decisions should be considered seriously and made in the context of the learning objectives of the program.15 One

Hagenberger, M., & Johnson, P., & Tougaw, D., & Will, J., & Budnik, M., & Sevener, K. (2007, June), Managing Senior Projects: Educating Graduates And Undergraduates In A Senior Project Course Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2824

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