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Project-based Learning for a Class on Manufacturer-Distributor Relationships

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Capstone and Design Projects

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1082.1 - 25.1082.8

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Paper Authors

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Malini Natarajarathinam Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Norm Clark Texas A&M University

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PROJECT BASED LEARNING FOR A CLASS ON MANUFACTURER- DISTRIBUTOR RELTATIONSHIPSIn today’s age where students have grown up in the internet age, “relationships” and “beingconnected” have taken different meanings from the past. In businesses, especially in B2Bscenarios, strategic relationships are very significant. So, teaching students the value of strategicrelationships and how to go about developing them became challenging. For the past few years,the students who go through the class on strategic relationships are provided a project basedlearning experience. Perrenet et al. (2000) indicate that project-based learning is better thanproblems-based learning as it not only helps with knowledge acquisition but also with time andresource management. As a part of this project in the class, students get to see and assess theeffects of such relationships with a real industrial distributor. The students work on a semesterlong project with an industrial distributor on different topics. They are provided with enoughresources in term of research material, faculty time and time with industry. This course is a required class for the Industrial Distribution curriculum of theEngineering Technology and Industrial Distribution (ETID) department. The course isspecifically targeted towards ETID juniors with Industrial Distribution majors. This article talksabout how the project is aligned with the learning objectives and the topics covered in the class.Measures taken to assess learning while actively working on the project are also discussed.Extensive industry projects done with students have their set of challenges and those arediscussed as well. Nepal and Lawrence (2011) have shown how project-based learning has beeneffective in an online graduate course. Benefits to the students as they go through this course andhow this type of learning helps the students better equipped to enter into the industry will also bediscussed. Students who have taken the course and worked on the project are able to gain a betterunderstanding of how relationships are developed. They also get to understand that one cannotwin all the time if they intend on having a successful long-term strategic relationship.References:Perrenet, J.C., Bouhuijs, P.A.J. and Smits, J.G.M.M., 2000. The Suitability of Problem-Based Learning forEngineering Education: Theory and Practice, Teaching Higher Education, 5 (3), 345-358.Nepal, B.P. and Lawrence, F.B., 2011. Project-based residency course for online graduate program, Proceedings ofthe ASEE National Conference. Vancouver, BC.

Natarajarathinam, M., & Clark, N. (2012, June), Project-based Learning for a Class on Manufacturer-Distributor Relationships Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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