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Promoting Diversity through Project Teams in Engineering Design

Dr Sunniva Collins | Case Western Reserve University and 2015 President of ASM International

Promoting Diversity through Project Teams in Engineering Design

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The use of the semester-long team-based design project is a standard approach to teaching design in the engineering curriculum. With modifications to team formation and instruction early in the course on team behavior and dynamics, more successful outcomes can be achieved in the project experience. Using social science research and applied methods from industrial experience, the team design project can also be an exercise in promoting diversity in engineering. At Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH), the undergraduate engineering population is approximately 30% female and minority, an increase over previous years. Retention of these students through degree completion can be assisted by positive engineering experiences early in the major. Two courses in the undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum, Design for Manufacturing I and II, provide opportunities for team leadership and inclusion, which in turn improve class outcomes. This presentation will discuss data and observations from the last several offerings of the courses, and simple techniques for promoting diversity in the classroom and beyond.