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Teaching And Learning Of Project Management For Engineering And Technology Capstone Research Projects

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Design in the ECE Curriculum

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1167.1 - 15.1167.13



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Paper Authors

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Bill Yang Western Carolina University

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Phillip Sanger Western Carolina University

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Patrick Gardner Western Carolina University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Teaching and Learning of Project Management for Engineering and Technology Capstone Research Projects


Project management has become an increasingly important skill for engineering and technology students of the 21st century especially for U.S. students. While much of routine design and manufacturing tasks are continuing to move overseas notably to India and China, creativity and management skills are still in high demand in the U.S. Senior capstone projects are well established as a pedagogical vehicle providing engineering and technology students the opportunity to learn and synthesize their project management skills with their other technical competences. Typically project management instruction is designed and well suited for product development and process improvement projects where the tasks can be clearly defined. It is more difficult to apply project management techniques to research oriented projects even though involving undergraduate students in leading-edge research programs often has strong and long term impact on student creativity. A typical stage- gate development process which includes stages of project definition, planning, execution, and completion, would require that existing competing products are examined and potential market discriminators for the new product clearly identified. For the research based project this stage would focus on more general applications of the technology and describing the limitations of existing technologies. At a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) gate, while a fabrication process would be identified for a product development process, methods and a plan for the research effort would be laid out. The shape of the stages and gates for new product development do not fit well and must be adapted to fit the project management needs of research oriented projects.

The paper reports on the challenge of adapting and integrating the well-developed project management principles to undergraduate research projects. By defining the product of a research project as a new piece of knowledge, and the existing market as the existing body of knowledge in a research field, we believe effective teaching and learning of project management through the undergraduate capstone research projects can be achieved and seamlessly integrated with existing product development oriented project management structures.


21st century engineering and technology education in the U.S. faces unprecedented challenges1. Generation X students appear to learn differently from previous generations of students while engineering and technology pedagogy remains very similar to that of a century ago. In addition, the fundamentals and basic skills that the engineering and technology education need to cover continue to grow while the total credit hours that can be packed in a four-year curriculum are being limited. Furthermore, the biggest challenge for future U.S. engineers is the large shift in the job market with the trend of continuous shifting of routine design and manufacturing jobs to India and China. It is clear that creativity, team working, leadership, problem solving, inter- disciplinary integration, and project management have become essential skills if these engineering and technology students are to remain in high-demand and be globally competitive1. These critical skills and particularly project management skills are essential for the Western Carolina University Engineering and Technology program which has adopted the project based

Yang, B., & Sanger, P., & Gardner, P. (2010, June), Teaching And Learning Of Project Management For Engineering And Technology Capstone Research Projects Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16015

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