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Redmine as a Web-Based Collaboration Tool in Engineering Design Courses

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Design Teamwork

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1028.1 - 23.1028.13



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Paper Authors


Junichi Kanai Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Junichi Kanai received a B.S. in EE, and a Master of Engineering and a Ph.D. in CSE from RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) in 1983, 1985, and 1990, respectively. He was an Assistant Research Professor at the Information Science Research Institute, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, from 1990 to 1997.
Dr. Kanai joined Panasonic Information and Networking Technologies Lab in Princeton, NJ in 1998. He was a senior scientist developing and transferring new technologies to Panasonic product divisions in Japan. He was also responsible for managing his groups’ patent portfolio.
From 2002 to 2004, he was a manager at the system group of Panasonic’s sales company in Secaucus, NJ providing system integration and software development for clients. He was also an Export Control officer.
Dr. Kanai joined the Design Lab at RPI in 2004. He is currently the Associate Director of the lab and and Professor of Practice of in the Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering department. The Design Lab provides industry sponsored and service oriented multidisciplinary design projects to 200 students/semester. His responsibilities include managing the operation of the Design Lab and enhancing the experience for students working on engineering design projects.

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Mark Anderson Rensselaer

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He received his Bachelor's degree and his Master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1979 and 1980, respectively. Mark began his career at Rensselaer as a Project Engineer for the Center for Manufacturing Productivity and Technology Transfer. He then moved to Westinghouse and General Electric where he held various positions in several computer related fields including manufacturing, robotics, vision systems, instrumentation, software development, factory automation, engineering, numerical control/CNC, machining, and business analysis. Mark is currently a Senior Project Engineer for the Design Lab at Rensselaer and the Course Coordinator for the Introduction to Engineering Design class.

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Redmine as a Web-Based Collaboration Tool in Engineering Design CoursesTraditional lecture-based coursework focuses on providing a solid theoretical foundation andanalytical skills for each of the various disciplines. On the other hand, capstone design coursesoffer collaborative design experiences. In our program, students work with their academicadvisors as well as industry sponsors toward a common project objective. They develop andexercise both practical communication and project management skills using an open source web-based collaboration software called Redmine ( was released as a bug-tracking tool in 2006. Enhancement made to the system and add-on modules made Redmine a powerful project management tool. The “Issues” feature allows thestudents to practice project management by recording and tracking tasks in addition to managingbugs in a system being developed. These tasks are then assigned to a team member to establishownership along with planned start and end dates. Redmine then automatically generates a Ganttchart showing the current project status.Collaboration is fostered through the use of the discussion forums and the built-in wiki. Studentspractice and enhance their communication skills by managing information in the project’s wikias their design notebook. Students also use the discussion forums for technical discussions anddesign reviews. Students post progress updates for their assigned issues, providing anopportunity for team members, sponsor mentors, and faculty advisors to provide feedback andsuggestions quickly.Redmine can generate various usage statistics that allow advisors to assess student interactions interms of quality and frequency. Project evaluators can monitor the frequency of each student’scontributions to the project and quickly review the content and quality.All of the features mentioned above and more have been used to support approximately 200students each semester since the fall of 2009. Although students required little encouragement tostart using the system instead of e-mail, many project teams used the system productively andobtained good results. The system also enabled the faculty advisers to assess a team’s progress,problems, and individual contributions more effectively. Their ability to respond the students’needs quickly enhanced their learning experience and made significant impact on the outcome ofthe project results.This paper will present issues in deploying the system and the best practices for using thesefeatures in engineering design courses.

Kanai, J., & Anderson, M. (2013, June), Redmine as a Web-Based Collaboration Tool in Engineering Design Courses Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22413

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