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Using Microsoft Outlook For Personal And Project Planning In A First Year Engineering Course

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

1553 FPD3 - Computer & Programming Tools in First Year Instruction

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1347.1 - 13.1347.9



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Paper Authors

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W. David Harding University of New Haven

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Samuel Daniels University of New Haven

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

Using Microsoft Outlook for Personal & Project Planning in a Freshman Year Engineering Course


A great variety of tools are available for use in the planning and organizing of project work. This paper discusses the use of Microsoft Outlook (Outlook) as a primary planning and organizational tool for a first year engineering course; “Project Planning and Development.” In the course, Outlook is used to manage student schedules and group meetings, to exchange drawings, agendas and recorded meeting minutes. Outlook is also used by students to organize and distribute tasks both within the groups and between interdependent groups.

Practicing engineers typically use organizational tools such as Microsoft Outlook in the workplace to manage their own schedules and projects. The early introduction of these tools to engineering students provides valuable preparation for industry practice. In addition, this imposed discipline forces students to critically assess their scheduling choices early enough to lessen retention problems. Personal organization is a key factor used to address early academic problems with engineering students. Programs such as “Success 4 Students”, taken in the first semester, help students identify the key roadblocks to success. This course provides the students with additional organizational tools, such as Gantt charts, deployment charts, and CPM diagrams, which are applicable to both personal and project scheduling.

This paper will discuss how Outlook is integrated into the class and compares it with other methods of group organization and communication. Previous versions of this course relied on the “Blackboard Academic Suite” for group communication. The paper also shows how an instructor can use Outlook to better oversee and manage student groups. A comparison of students that have taken the course with each method is presented and techniques for further enhancement of the project scheduling with Outlook are discussed.


In 2004 the EAS109 Project Planning & Development course was developed and implemented to provide early exposure to project management skills essential to all engineering students. The course was organized around two major projects to keep student interest while developing key technical skills.1 Initially, Microsoft Excel (Excel) was used to organize and schedule the team activities and projects for the course. Surprisingly, the students lacked even the most basic organizational skills which was noted in the repeated out of class team meeting and organization problems. Student prioritization was clearly askew with the academic demands. Various attempts to remedy the organizational problems were implemented in parallel courses and eventually integrated into the EAS109 class, including the requirement for personal scheduling in Microsoft Outlook (Outlook).

The College as a whole implemented the Success4Students program, developed at Texas A&M, in 2006 to establish some basic personal scheduling goals for engineering students.2 The Success4Students program focuses on developing good time management and goal setting

Harding, W. D., & Daniels, S. (2008, June), Using Microsoft Outlook For Personal And Project Planning In A First Year Engineering Course Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4220

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