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Preparing Capstone Design Instructors and Project Mentors to Deal with Difficult Students and Problem Teams

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Design as a Social Process: Teams and Organizations

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1246.1 - 26.1246.20



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Paper Authors


R. Keith Stanfill University of Florida

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Keith Stanfill holds the academic rank of Engineer and serves as the Director of the Integrated Product and Process Design (IPPD) Program for the University of Florida (UF) College of Engineering. He received his B.S., M.E., and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from UF in 1985, 1991 and 1995, respectively. He joined the UF Industrial and Systems Engineering faculty in 1999 as the IPPD Associate Director and was promoted to IPPD Director in 2001. In Fall 2013, he joined the Engineering Innovation Institute.

IPPD is an experiential multidisciplinary design program where teams of students complete real projects for sponsoring companies and agencies. Dr. Stanfill has recruited over 300 industry-sponsored projects and directed the efforts of over 1900 senior-level engineering and business students for the IPPD program. In 2003, he helped create the Integrated Technology Ventures (ITV) program and serves as Chair of the ITV Board of Directors. The ITV program exposes students to the realities of technology start-up companies while assisting UF researchers in commercializing their technological innovations. Virtual companies comprised of engineering, business, and law students identify market opportunities, develop business plans, and produce prototype systems. Each ITV team is led by an experienced entrepreneurial CEO and features hands-on guidance from engineering, business, and law faculty.

Prior to joining UF, Dr. Stanfill spent ten years with United Technologies where he designed fighter aircraft gas turbine hardware for Pratt & Whitney, served as a key resource to the Carrier Corporation New Product Development Council Steering Committee, facilitated Design for X (DFx) workshops internationally, developed business process linkages between new product development and lean manufacturing, and developed and implemented manufacturing systems software. His interests include technology transfer, product development, design education, DFx, and entrepreneurship.

He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Florida and is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Engineering Education, the Institute for Industrial Engineers, the UF Faculty Senate, the UF Sustainability Committee, and the UF College of Engineering Faculty Council. He is the faculty advisor for the UF Men’s Soccer Club and for the Engineering Leadership Circle. He has served on the organizing committee for the 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2014 Capstone Design Conference. He volunteers his time as a judge in the Alachua Region Science and Engineering Fair and the Junior Science, Engineering and Humanities Symposium. He recently served as the booster club president and volunteer goalkeeper coach for the Buchholz High School Lady Bobcats soccer team.

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Shari Ann Robinson University of Florida Counseling and Wellness center

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Dr. Robinson is the Interim Director at the University of Florida
Counseling and Wellness Center. She is a licensed psychologist, received her PhD in Counseling Psychology from West Virginia University.

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Preparing Capstone Design Instructors and ProjectMentors to Deal with Difficult Students and ProblemTeamsAbstractCapstone project mentors work on a more intimate professional basis with students than their colleagueswho teach traditional lecture-based courses. It is not uncommon for capstone design course instructors,program directors, and team mentors to get involved resolving team conflicts, counseling team leaders inhandling nonproductive team members, and performing damage control on dysfunctional teams. Thesesituations can have nothing to do with the sophistication and thoroughness of students’ technical trainingand may involve issues such as the students’ maturity and/or stress levels, the influence of “bad apple”personality types, physical and/or mental health, and drug or alcohol abuse.New instructors are especially ill equipped to identify and manage these often thorny situations. Evenseasoned instructors may not be familiar with effective practices for identifying and resolving difficultteam and student dynamics. In response to these shortcomings, a workshop was developed to engage newand veteran capstone instructors in sharing effective practices for identification of troubled andtroublesome students and strategies for intervention.This paper describes the following: • development of a rubric to help identify and act upon problematic capstone design student and team behaviors • implications for engaging various campus counseling and intervention resources • descriptions of tools available to empower faculty and students to recognize and respond appropriately to some common problem situations • creation and delivery of a capstone design instructor workshop to share effective practices for dealing with difficult students and teams • results of the pilot offering of the workshop at the 2014 Capstone Design Conference.

Stanfill, R. K., & Robinson, S. A. (2015, June), Preparing Capstone Design Instructors and Project Mentors to Deal with Difficult Students and Problem Teams Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24583

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