Hierarchical Model for Coaching Technical Design Teams

Michele V. Manuel
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611. USA
E-mail: mmanuel@mse.ufl.edu

Ann F. McKenna and Gregory B. Olson
Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA

A new design education model has been developed to address the issue of technical depth in undergraduate design education by utilizing graduate students as coaches. This model has been implemented in a junior-level capstone materials science and engineering design course. The model allows the graduate student coaches to experience supervision of other researchers while serving as a technical resource and role model for the undergraduate design team. Meanwhile, the instructor serves as an expert who oversees the instruction of the course and the graduate student coaches. With reduced responsibility, the instructor can focus on the quality of research performed while influencing a greater number of design teams. This paper provides an overview of the model, its characteristics and execution, and presents findings from interviews with the graduate students coaches and undergraduate design team members. Results from our study suggest that the model provides benefits for all participants in the hierarchy.


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