June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.1373.1 - 12.1373.9
Team-Composition Methodologies for Manufacturing Engineering Technology Program Projects
The ability to work effectively as a member of a team has always been an integral component of a manufacturing engineering professional’s skill set, but never more so than now. Incorporation of practices such as lean manufacturing and third-party certification into companies’ standard operating procedures have heightened the awareness among employers of the desirability of so- called “soft skills” in their prospective employees. Consequently, teamwork is more a fundamental part of modern manufacturing-related curricula than ever before as well. However, the best way to impart soft-skill lessons, especially in hard-skill fields, is open to debate, especially in the academic environment where outcomes assessment is stressed. Factors such as the size of classes, complexity of projects, strengths versus weaknesses of class members, diversity initiatives in place, and many other dynamics may play a role in the formation of project teams. Simultaneously addressing the needs of each individual student, the needs of the class as a whole, and needs of industrial partners is a delicate balancing act that calls first and foremost for careful consideration of all pertinent factors, followed by insightful decisions and proper monitoring.
This paper addresses methods of forming project teams in on-campus courses delivered by traditional methodology in the Ferris State University B.S. program in Manufacturing Engineering Technology. It discusses our different approaches to team composition including their pluses and minuses, application of those methods in various courses at Ferris, assessment techniques of those team exercises, and suggestions for improving the process.
In the competitive world of manufacturing, employers need new engineers to be able to earn their keep right from day one. Companies have always expected graduates to have mastered technical aspects of the trade, with such other traits as good presentation skills and leadership qualities often determining the difference between who gets a ride on the company’s fast track and who goes down some corporate cul-de-sac. However, those skills once considered “soft” are increasingly necessary not just to climb the corporate ladder, but even to access the first rung. Chief among those newly necessary soft skills is the ability to work as a member of a team. The big question is how to impart soft-skill lessons, especially in the academic environment where outcomes assessment is increasingly more important.
In one form or another, though, team projects are an integral part of the manufacturing education experience. A large body of work on team dynamics exists, as a quick literature search can easily verify. However, assorted internal and external factors of a practical nature such as the size of the class versus complexity of the project, strengths versus weaknesses of class members, and many other dynamics can play a role in the formation of project teams for specific tasks. Balancing all concerns for each set of constituents is an increasingly difficult task for instructors to carry out.
Rumpf, J. (2007, June), Team Composition Methodologies For Manufacturing Engineering Technology Program Projects Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2057
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