June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.1011.1 - 13.1011.16
Promoting Professional Development in Undergraduate Engineering Using Laboratory Team Projects: A Case Study Good professional communication skills and the ability to work in teams are critical skills demanded by engineering companies. Further, in order to maintain competitiveness and to work in the global marketplace, engineering companies are increasingly supporting the creation and use of professional standards that are developed by engineering societies. Unfortunately, many undergraduates have historically received little or no education regarding this aspect of engineering.
This paper describes the efforts to provide students with laboratory-based projects which provide students with significant exposure to professional engineering standards and practices. These projects require the students to read professional standards that pertain to the particular topic under study and to operate vehicles while using professional automotive engineering tools.
Many undergraduates are largely unaware of the resources available at professional engineering societies. These resources range from professional codes and recommended practices to technical papers, and professional contacts. These resources can help young engineers to get a “jump start” on their peers.
Because of the need to cover many fundamental engineering topics in core courses, it is difficult to set aside sufficient time for hands-on, professional work. Often experimental work is concentrated into specific laboratory courses where students tend to be given detailed, step-by- step instructions on how to use the lab equipment and calculate the results. This approach is not the best way to prepare the students for the reality of professional engineering practice.
It can be difficult for faculty to devote time in providing exceptional design and applied experiences to undergraduates while also trying to develop their research. Often faculty members find that these priorities compete for their time. This is particularly difficult for young faculty. Further, young faculty members increasingly have extremely limited work experience in the engineering profession. This has led to a gap between what universities are teaching, and what engineers are expected to know in industry.1 Engineers in industry spend much time working on complex system integration, yet few engineering undergraduates understand this process.2 Bokulich  adds “the state of education in this country, especially in science, engineering and technology, has become a matter of increasing concern to many of us in American industry.”
At the graduate level, industry and universities actively collaborate in research and development programs. This results in a supply of highly qualified technical specialists which industry uses to continue the process of development. This collaboration is not typical at the undergraduate level, and industry simply “accepts the ‘output’ from university with the knowledge that they have to complete the training process through in-house training programs.”3 In an increasing competitive global economy, this practice is not sustainable.
Davis, G., & Hoff, C. (2008, June), Promoting Professional Development In Undergraduate Engineering Using Laboratory Team Projects: A Case Study Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4296
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