Leadership, Management, and Diversity: Missed Opportunities within Student Design Competition Teams

Engineering competition teams provide some students the opportunity to design authentic engineering artifacts, manage budgets and logistics, exercise engineering analysis and decision making, build an engineering artifact and develop and practice professional skills. In a research study examining the cultures, structure, composition, and processes of a variety of Student Experiential Learning Engineering Competition Teams (SELECT), we collected data from teams from multiple institutions and a variety of design competitions. The data from the teams consists of interviews of team members and advisors, team documents, and other public artifacts. This paper examines two SELECT teams from the same institution as representatives of other teams from their particular design competitions. We found differences between the teams in recruiting, team structure and organization, student leadership, faculty advisors, expectations for commitment, integration into academic structure (capstone), and focus on competition success.

In spite of the differences in team organization and goals, both teams missed opportunities for students to acquire and practice important professional skills. Neither team provided opportunities for formal learning about leadership and management, nor experience and mentorship for working with a diverse group of peers (e.g. diversity from race, gender, socio- economic status, or major discipline). The most egregious missed opportunity within these teams was, and is for many teams, the vast number of students who are excluded from participation by cultural and structural elements of the teams. This paper offers recommendations to advisors, departments, and engineering educators about the scaffolding necessary to offer more authentic learning opportunities and build teams that are more diverse.

DOI: 10.18260/p.24396

Available from: ASEE Archive

Walden, S. E., C. E. Foor, R. Pan, R. L. Shehab and D. A. Trytten (2015). Leadership, Management, and Diversity: Missed Opportunities within Student Design Competition Teams. Proceedings of 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, WA, American Society for Engineering Education. DOI: 10.18260/p.24396

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