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Work in Progress: First-time Use of CATME in a Design Course

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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

Design Teams 2

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Joseph Towles Stanford University

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Joseph Towles is a Lecturer jointly appointed in the Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering Departments at Stanford University. Joe completed his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford. Joe also completed a research post-doctoral fellowship in the Sensory Motor Performance Program at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department at Northwestern University. His teaching interests are in the areas of solid mechanics, biomechanics, dynamic systems and controls, and engineering design. Joe's scholarship interests are in the areas of engineering education and neuromuscular biomechanics. Specifically, Joe's engineering education activities include student-centric course and curricular development; assessment of student learning and engagement; and innovation in approaches to enhance student learning. In neuromuscular biomechanics, Joe’s interests are in restoration of human movement following neuromuscular injury.

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Jeff Wood Stanford University

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Goal: Make a difference in the world, through development and training of engineers to solve the most pressing problems facing the world today.

ME Capstone Course and Lab Project Development Director
Jeff is the ME Capstone Course and Lab Projects Development Director at Stanford, where he brings his 25-year industry experience to the role. He is responsible for the ongoing strategy, design, curriculum plan and instruction plans for capstone courses in the Mechanical Engineering Department, as part of a broad effort to redesign the curriculum requirements for the undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Jeff has over twenty years’ product development and manufacturing experience bringing medical and consumer products to market, through the course of my career journey with Apple, SGI, Nektar, Boston Scientific and Amazon/Lab126. In addition to working with and training engineers in industry, his 9+ years coaching and teaching students in science and sports provide an excellent foundation for educating engineers to make a difference in the world.

Specialties: Leading organizations to deliver innovative, thoughtful products; thorough understanding of design/development process; GMPs; Design Controls; risk-based design and assessments; end-user usability; design and manufacturing processes; efficiency metrics/improvements.

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Being a member of a team is a common experience for many people, e.g., during athletic endeavors, as students in school, or as colleagues in the workplace. The idea, however, that any team will function at a high level (i.e., productively and constructively) without purposeful and well-informed effort is not true. The literature on forming teams supports the notion that teams thrive when team members feel psychologically safe, are engaged in setting goals, and are dependent on and are accountable to one another. It is unclear, however, what the appropriate conditions are in a given setting (e.g., athletics, school, workplace) that will encourage the formation of healthy teams and appropriately engaged team members. The goal of this study was to introduce, for the first time, CATME in Stanford University’s mechanical engineering capstone design course (ME 170, Mechanical Engineering Design: Integrating Context with Engineering) so that it could facilitate the establishment of healthy team dynamics among student design teams. Specifically, we asked the following questions: (1) does the format of the course support healthy team practices? (2) do students find CATME sufficient/helpful for learning about their strengths and ways to improve? and (3) how healthy are the design teams? CATME was introduced in ME 170 as a tool to evaluate the extent to which teams were engaged in healthy team practices and to generate discussion within teams about healthy team dynamics. Following the end of the course, semi-structured interviews were conducted to learn about student CATME experiences. Based on the CATME scores from 13 design teams (51 students) and interviews of 2 students, we found that: (1) the structure of the course does support healthy team practices; (2) students may benefit from a team assessment tool, in addition to CATME, that requires structured, written feedback from everyone to be shared; (3) the student design teams were more healthy than not.

Towles, J., & Wood, J. (2021, July), Work in Progress: First-time Use of CATME in a Design Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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