This paper discusses the benefits of engaging engineering student teams through competition in technical development projects. The University of XXX is a minority serving institution situated in the developing region of the XXX state, where recently, there has been a great expansion of advanced manufacturing industries, including innovative aerospace companies. These industries look for engineering and technology students who are creative thinkers and capable of addressing complex engineering problems. The best of student output often comes out with a friendly competition. Hence, two student teams were assigned with the same sponsored project to come out with innovative solutions. The project was sponsored by an aerospace-industry with a budget of $3000 per team for these two competing teams to come out with successful proof of concepts. The project consists of designing and building a semi-automatic weather balloon launching system with minimum human intervention. The competing teams did extensive research on the existing technology and constraints in arriving at feasible solutions. One of the design goals is to develop this automated system with flexibility in site selection and launch schedule. The intended design must include inflating balloon with helium that has a lifting capacity of around two pounds. The payload is a radiosonde- an electronic device that captures and transmits to the control base weather-related details such as humidity, temperature, pressure and wind speed at different altitudes of the atmosphere. This weather data is used to determine flight conditions of rockets that are launched. Hence, this data plays a paramount importance in launching of rockets with valuable payloads. Typically, it takes two persons several man-hours to assemble and launch these weather balloons. Automating this process will save these man-power and can be utilized for other creative and productive tasks in the company. The student teams have to conduct several scientific and technological experiments to understand design parameters for the project. Major activities that are to be automated include, inflating with helium, sealing, and release of balloon. Intended sequence is as follows: attachment of balloon, fill helium to set volume to lift two pounds of payload, power radiosonde and verify signal, attach radiosonde along with de-realer, seal balloon and launch. All these complex tasks have to be automated along with integration. The student teams followed the principles of product design in arriving at a solution to this complex automation problem. The outcomes of the projects were evaluated and assessed by a rubric-instrument developed to meet the ABET-TAC (Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology- Technology Accreditation Commission) accreditation requirement. Student survey instrument was used to capture collaboration and engagement of students for the successful completion of their projects. Team dynamics and influence of competition in successfully completing a design project are thoroughly discussed in the paper. Also, discussed in detail in the paper are the pedagogical aspects of the Engineering Technology curriculum and seamless integration of industry sponsored projects that have the potential to enhance the marketability of its graduates.
Edinbarough, I., & Taha-Tijerina, J., & Akundi, A. (2022, August), Enhancing Engagement and Qualitative Output of Technical Projects Through Competing Team Assignments Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/41844