Asee peer logo

Transitioning an In-person Team Engineering Design Project to a Virtual Setting

Download Paper |


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

First-year Programs: Virtual Instruction in the First Year 1

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Christopher Dalton University of Oklahoma

visit author page

Dr. Chris Dalton is originally from Wichita, Kansas, where he developed his interests in mathematics, science and engineering through a variety of experiences as a student. He attended the University of Oklahoma, where he went on to complete his Bachelors (2004), Masters (2007) and Doctoral (2010) Degrees in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in thermal/fluid sciences. While at OU, Dr. Dalton was the recipient of two different NSF fellowships, the second of which focused on K-12 STEM outreach. Dr. Dalton joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2012 as a Professor of Practice, where he received multiple awards for teaching and advising undergraduate students. In 2015, he returned to his alma mater to join the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering as Assistant Professor of Practice where in addition to his teaching responsibilities he serves as the coordinator for the mechanical engineering capstone program and the advisor for two student organizations: Sooner Off-Road and the Oklahoma Science Olympiad Alumni Association. He is now an associate professor of practice, and heavily involved in K-12 outreach programs as well as the AT&T Summer Bridge Program for the Gallogly College of Engineering. He is the recipient of the 2016 Brandon H. Griffith Award for Outstanding Faculty Member and the 2017 Tom J. Love Most Outstanding Professor Award.

visit author page


Allison Quiroga P.E. University of Oklahoma Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Allison Quiroga serves as the AT&T Summer Bridge Program Coordinator for the Gallogly College of Engineering Diversity and Inclusion Program at the University of Oklahoma. Her background includes B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Architectural and Civil Engineering from the University of Oklahoma.

visit author page


Bobby Reed University of Oklahoma Libraries

visit author page

Bobby Reed, Head of Emerging Technologies (B.A. University of Central Oklahoma, 2010; M.A. University of Central Oklahoma, 2014; M.L.I.S. University of Oklahoma, 2018) joined the University of Oklahoma Libraries in 2018 as an expert in 3D printing. Before joining OU, he worked as a middle-school instructor in English and English as a Second Language for the Mid-Del School district and as the Learning and Development Coordinator for the Metropolitan Library System. Serving as a project manager and PI for grants in both public and academic libraries previously, Bobby brings a mature attention to detail needed for success in coordinating and standardizing disparate data outputs of large-team projects. As the head of emerging technologies, he focuses on technology librarianship and managing research and development units within information organizations. Recent projects from the emerging technologies team include VR recreations of crime-scenes for a trial techniques course at the University of Oklahoma Law School, 3D printed study aids from 3D scanned real-world objects like human remains, and photogrammetric preservations of at risk cultural objects like the Black Wall Street Mural in Tulsa, OK’s Greenwood District.

visit author page

Download Paper |


This Complete Evidence-based Practice paper describes the transition of an in-person engineering design project to a virtual setting as part of a Summer Bridge program. The project is typically a hands-on, interdisciplinary, team engineering project that students work on each day on campus. The typical goals of the project are to introduce the students to the engineering design process, working as part of an engineering team, and to gain experience with our facilities that allow for construction and fabrication of projects. Due to the closure of the University during the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire program was moved to a virtual format, including the engineering project. In order to ensure that the students were still able to experience the many benefits of a hands-on, interdisciplinary, team project, the project staff worked in the spring and early summer to come up with a new scope, structure and plan. The scope of the new project (an electric boat carrying pennies) was reduced to ensure that students could individually complete the build aspect of their projects in their homes using materials and tools that were shipped to each student. Students were instructed on the details of the traditional engineering design process and the schedule of the project was created to follow this traditional process. The program was extended to 6 weeks, with each student team meeting via synchronous video conferencing twice per week to work as a team and interact with project advisors. Teams were required to submit updates on their project as well as requests for additional materials. In a new process for the project staff, the student cohort was introduced to computer aided design software and given access to 3D printers on campus to produce specialized parts for their boats. Students were also required to document their project work, beginning with design discussions and drawings, and concluding with a final presentation and a video. As the program proceeded, the primary difficulty was verifying project progress for each team and ensuring teams made adequate progress each week. There were also issues ensuring students received their shipped materials and equipment in a timely fashion. Project mentors (current engineering students and program alumni) were utilized to help assist in observing the students and soliciting feedback on the project experience. The initial project schedule was adjusted to allow more time for early design work and to allow supplies to reach their destinations. While all students were able to successfully complete the project, the performance of the boats varied widely. However, the team’s final presentations and videos reflected understanding of the design process and enjoyment of the project. If future programs are virtual for the project portion, additional and more specific communications from the students would allow program staff to more adequately evaluate team progress and improve project performance. More pre-program assessments would allow program staff to document improvements in student understanding of the engineering design process and overall project opinions.

Dalton, C., & Quiroga, A., & Reed, B. (2021, July), Transitioning an In-person Team Engineering Design Project to a Virtual Setting Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015