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Valuable Lessons From The Successes And Failures Of Teams Of Engineering Students

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade for Teaching II

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1443.1 - 10.1443.11



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Bijan Sepahpour

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

Valuable Lessons from the Successes and Failures of Teams of Engineering Students

Bijan Sepahpour, Shou-Rei Chang Department of Mechanical Engineering The College of New Jersey Ewing, New Jersey 08628-0718

ABSTRACT Performance of engineering students at regional, national and international competitions is often used as benchmarks for assessment of the quality of the education provided by their undergraduate institution. In such competitions, the potential for success of a small program entering the competition for the first or second time may be significantly different than that of a larger institution which has entered the competition several times previously. The authors, as advisors of two different ongoing projects share their years of experience with those colleagues who are interested in sponsoring engineering students in such challenging competitions. They briefly discuss elements of group dynamics and discuss why the success rate of the projects depends heavily on successful team building. They discuss steps for successful creation of teams that the strength of their members complement each other and propose tested techniques that may significantly enhance the relative potential of such teams. The instrumental role of the advisor is discussed. His/her project management activities must gradually be taken over by one or several members of the team. S/he must clearly establish the goals of the project and the expected performance criteria. The level of such expectations/goals may be significantly different than those set for winning the competition. The teams that achieve these initially set goals of their own environment are considered successful. The most important outcome of such projects is the experience that the students gain by their involvement in a cooperative learning environment through which they enhance their overall knowledge of engineering and improve their group dynamics skills.

I- INTRODUCTION For the past twenty two years, The College of New Jersey-TCNJ (formerly known as Trenton State College) has developed and prepared many vehicles for competitive events. In 1983 we built our first Mini-Baja vehicle as part of our Senior Design Project activity and since then, new groups of students have been designing and building completely new and distinct vehicles for SAE’s “Mini Baja East”. In 1992 we started a second group building a solar/electric car to participate in NESEA’s “American Tour deSol”. These two groups were working side-by-side when in 1995 we added a third group whose task was to design a Lunar Rover to compete in NASA’s “Great American Moonbuggy Race”. When the advisor for the solar/electric car retired, the faculty felt that the department needed to maintain several opportunities for students to become involved in “group senior design activities.” The department’s history of success in

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Sepahpour, B. (2005, June), Valuable Lessons From The Successes And Failures Of Teams Of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15053

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