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Using National Competitions To Focus Student Clubs

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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

Poster Session

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1332.1 - 15.1332.8



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Paper Authors

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Scott Bellinger Rochester Institute of Technology (COE)

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Clark Hochgraf Rochester Institute of Technology

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

Using National Competitions to Focus and Energize Student Clubs Abstract

This paper explores the multi-disciplinary aspects and benefits of extracurricular team events. The primary audience for this paper is engineering and engineering technology teachers, teacher supervisors, teaching assistants and administrators.

An Electric Bicycle club was formed comprised of students from multiple academic disciplines. The group included both deaf and hard of hearing participants adding diversity to the communications requirements and richness to the results. Team collaboration across disciplines and between differing communication cultures was accomplished by providing students coaching and mentoring in project management skills. They were assigned specific tasks such as CAD drawings, part procurement, motor testing, performance monitoring, machining, and final testing. Teamwork was utilized to merge the various subsystems into one unified vehicle. An ideal way to focus the club's enthusiasm and creativity was found in joining the Tour de Sol electric vehicle competition

Strategies are presented for setting up a successful technology based club with students from different academic majors. Creative methods for linking classroom teaching to club activities are offered. Coaching and mentoring techniques for focusing the students efforts without taking control (important for student led clubs) are presented.


Educating students for success includes developing skills for working effectively in multi- disciplinary teams [1]. A variety of approaches to foster teamwork have been discussed in the literature including the use of interdisciplinary design teams and multi-disciplinary design courses [3,10]. The benefits multi-disciplinary teams have been examined [9] and a few best practices identified [5]. A common theme is the challenge of communication and team dynamics. At Rochester Institute of Technology, home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, an opportunity for a multi-disciplinary team consisting of hearing and deaf/hard of hearing students was presented when I brought my personal electric bicycle (ebike) in to demonstrate speed control for a class. I noticed students were intrigued and showed a keen interest after riding it around outside. I had heard of a national event called the Tour de Sol that had recently expanded their events to include an ebike competition. At the time I was studying American Sign Language (ASL) to improve communication with my deaf and hard of hearing students (d/hh). I realized that if I started a club focused on electric bicycles and some of my d/hh students joined, it would provide a unique opportunity. My students would get experience in putting classroom theory to practical use and I would get a chance to improve my ASL skills in an informal setting. I suggested we form an Ebike club with the goal of designing and building a vehicle to compete in the Tour de Sol.

Bellinger, S., & Hochgraf, C. (2010, June), Using National Competitions To Focus Student Clubs Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16454

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