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Paper Planes: Developing Teamwork Awareness With A Manufacturing Simulation

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Tools of Teaching

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.909.1 - 7.909.10



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Paper Authors

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Richard Jacques

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Mark Shields

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John O'Connell

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Matthew Mehalik

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

Main Menu Session 1560

Paper Planes: Developing Teamwork Awareness with a Manufacturing Simulation

J.P. O'Connell, M.A. Shields, M.M. Mehalik, R. Jacques* University of Virginia


We find that many students who enter UVa have not been involved in activities which require larger teams to function, to adjust their structure for improved efficiency and success, and to assess individual roles in the context of goal-oriented teamwork. This may be common in other universities as well. Yet, this experience is most important for engineering graduates to have worked and achieved in for contemporary and future technical and business careers. Our goal has been to provide an introduction to such perspectives in typical interdisciplinary first-semester classes of engineering design and/or communications.

For several years, we have been using a modification to classroom use of commercial simulations of manufacturing. The activity is usually done in the evening accompanied by pizza and soft drinks. The materials used are paper templates that require student teams to perform many steps of cutting, folding, adorning, inspecting for quality, and launching for accuracy on a target. The format is a competition allowing redesign and improvement from the first (usually quite ineffective) and second (somewhat better) member assignments and team construction strategies to a third (reasonably satisfactory) run that “counts”.

We have monitored individual student assessments during and after the activity. They show much greater appreciation of the need for team members to look beyond themselves to assist others, to analyze and adapt their roles to improve productivity, and to focus on what they can do, both individually and collectively, toward achieving the whole team’s objective, rather than merely reaching their individual goals.

This paper describes the format of the simulation, gives analyzed and anecdotal assessment by students, and provides information about how other teachers might use our materials and experience in their own programs.

1. Introduction

Teamwork is essential for accomplishing engineering projects and solving contemporary and future engineering problems. The complexity of modern technology and the sophistication of current knowledge and procedures makes it impossible for any single individual to know and do everything; assistance from others is essential in virtually every engineering endeavor.

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Jacques, R., & Shields, M., & O'Connell, J., & Mehalik, M. (2002, June), Paper Planes: Developing Teamwork Awareness With A Manufacturing Simulation Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10078

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