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Redefining Student Preparation for Engineering Leadership Using Model-Based Systems Engineering in an Undergraduate Curriculum

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Teaching Methodology & Assessment 2

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George Frederick Halow University of Michigan

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George F. Halow is named Professor of Practice in Aerospace Engineering effective May 1st, 2019 and is specializing in teaching leadership and professionalism in engineering. He is the winner of the 2020 Sigma Gamma Tau Silver Shaft Award as the top teacher in Aerospace Engineering, and the 2021 Aerospace Engineering Department Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Impact Award.

Prior to his appointment at the University of Michigan, George had a distinguished 31-year career at Ford Motor Company, where he held numerous positions as Chief Engineer of multiple vehicle lines (Expedition/Navigator, Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis, Town Car, and Ranger), several engineering leadership positions in automotive interiors and exteriors, and possesses operational experience in product design, manufacturing, and business & technology strategy.

George has also been a very active mentor and coach, both in industry (serving on multiple personnel development committees and special projects to enhance organizational competency) and in academia (serving as the Ford Executive Champion for University of Michigan Student Teams, and Ford lead recruiter for the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland). In addition, he has been a featured guest lecturer numerous times on multiple leadership subjects, and at all levels, at the University of Michigan, the University of Maryland, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, and Cornell University.

George is co-author of US (US6745151 B2) and German (DE10319493 A1) Patents for on-vehicle data acquisition, buffering, remote transmission, and analysis (2004)

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Maia E. Herrington University of Michigan

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Instructional Aide, Department of Aerospace Engineering, and Computer Engineering undergraduate student.

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Melanie Spare Siemens Digital Industries Software

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Shannon O'Donnell Siemens Digital Industries Software

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Gilbert Morris Retired (formerly Siemens)

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US colleges and universities, which include some of the top academic institutions in the world, confer over 130,000 engineering degrees each year. However, it is well-documented that, while these graduates possess exceptional technical talent in areas such as systems engineering, there is a wide gap between industry's expectations and new employee capabilities involving essential business skills, including team leadership, complex project management, ethics, risk-based decision-making, and communications. Moreover, advances in technology are transforming industry at a record pace, creating the need for highly-skilled technical specialists who can innovate beyond the traditional boundaries between the engineering disciplines. Additionally, the next-generation of smart products are complex systems of systems that require a new approach to development. Unfortunately, formal instruction to address these needs is lacking at the undergraduate level, leaving students inadequately prepared to meet their employer's expectations.

This paper outlines an undergraduate curriculum aimed at addressing this problem through a systems engineering and leadership course sequence, which uses Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) principles. Students in the class are primarily leaders from three aerospace vehicle-focused student project teams, which are developing operational craft for spring competitions. The course provides just-in-time training on key systems engineering tools and process elements, as well as key leadership and business skills, as the students proceed through the SDLC sequence.

The course begins with an individual Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) lab sequence, which was developed in partnership with an industry-leading engineering software and tools provider. This MBSE lab sequence is combined with teachings and team assignments revolving around other critical Systems V-based engineering tools and processes, including risk management/FMEA, project management, and Six Sigma-informed quality and test execution – all of which will inform and direct teams’ design/build/test/fly projects to ensure product excellence and program health. Effective application of these tools and processes are then assessed by panels of industry and faculty judges at discrete team Preliminary Design Review (PDR), Critical Design Review (CDR), and Flight Readiness Review (FRR) events. Course teachings are also supplemented by a number of distinguished industry practitioners, who connect the teachings to real-life scenarios and situations to highlight their relevance.

To evaluate the impact of this course, we will examine student survey responses as well as quantitative scoring and comments by industry/faculty judges during design reviews. In addition, we will use feedback from experts in the aerospace field and the performance of the student teams in their respective competitions at the end of each semester. These factors will help to assess the effectiveness of the teachings and enable continuous improvements to the curriculum.

The paper also outlines future plans for scaling the curriculum to a full hands-on, lab-based experiential learning platform. It also captures plans for future expansion to other engineering disciplines at the undergraduate level, plus more expert applications at the graduate level.

Halow, G. F., & Herrington, M. E., & Spare, M., & O'Donnell, S., & Morris, G. (2021, July), Redefining Student Preparation for Engineering Leadership Using Model-Based Systems Engineering in an Undergraduate Curriculum Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37643

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