New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Design in Engineering Education
For years, engineers in industry have collaborated in teams with colleagues who are separated geographically. The accelerating pace of the globalization of design makes long-distance communication and project management necessary skill sets for engineers since many companies now operate internationally. Although the concept of a virtual design team is not new, it has not been widely adopted in engineering curriculum due to many challenges including: inadequate resource allocation, lack of instructors with virtual design experience, mismatched project course structures between schools, and the difficulty to sustain support to overcome coordination obstacles. In this paper, we will outline preliminary efforts in developing such a cross-institutional collaborative program between two engineering programs. Both programs have strong capstone design curriculum aiming to introduce the students to the real-world engineering design process through the participation in externally funded, hands-on design projects. Students are introduced to the industrial design process by forming cohesive teams where they interact among themselves, with industry sponsors, faculty advisors, and, sometimes, with multidisciplinary members outside engineering schools.
Over the years, program A has increased its multidisciplinary projects such that its students are required to collaborate with various engineering and non-engineering programs and, for the past few years, it has expanded the collaboration to a few international universities. Program A’s past experience with the multidisciplinary approach shows that such projects can leverage on the complementary skills and disciplinary expertise of individuals and institutions so that effective partnership can form to provide inspirational learning experience for all participants.
B has a similar senior design model, spanning a total of three semesters, a single credit junior design course held in the spring semester, followed by both senior year semesters. Being a smaller school with 14 different engineering disciplines, multidisciplinary senior design projects are commonplace, allowing students from various disciplines to work collaboratively to meet the end requirement(s). Oftentimes, senior design projects are industry-sponsored, although national design competitions are sometimes used as well.
Based on multiple deliberations between design coordinators and program leaders, the programs decided to establish a long-term partnership to develop multi-year cross-institutional senior capstone design projects. Similar to multidisciplinary projects, we expect structured coordination and effective communication will be needed to manage a cross-institutional team. Additionally, the project will utilize a virtual enterprise platform as well as some of the commercially available computational tools for collaborative design. Other challenges such as mismatched course management, team identity, responsibility delegation, and resource allocation might require extra efforts to overcome. Therefore, we have identified a well-defined nation-wide engineering design competition event as the first joint project to initiate the collaboration. A two-year plan has been drafted to ensure that student teams will not be overwhelmed by multi-tasks to complete all technical requirements, while mastering skills needed to organize a functional virtual team. This paper will discuss the challenges of executing such a project and how can we transform the pilot program into a sustained collaborative team learning experience beneficial to both programs.
Gupta, N., & Jensen, M. J., & Shih, C. (2016, June), The Development of Cross-Institutional Senior Capstone Design Project Collaboration - A Pilot Project Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26124
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