A case study on educating engineers for geographically-dispersed design teams

John F. Dannenhoffer, Anthony R. Ingraffea, Alan T. Zehnder, Barry D. Davidson, Scott L. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalConference Articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The mantra of industry today is to design products and processes using collaborative design teams. While the potential benefits of such a design philosophy are numerous and significant, many organizations find themselves falling short in the implementation. Sometimes these shortcomings are due to cultural and technical difficulties in the organization, but too frequently they are due to a lack of knowledge as to how to collaborate effectively. Described herein is an educational initiative by Syracuse and Cornell Universities to together teach collaborative design methodologies through a common two-semester, senior-level engineering design course. In the course, not only are the lectures taught to the two cohorts of students using at-a-distance technologies, but the students are teamed in cross-university teams to execute a series of 6-week design challenges, from preliminary through detailed thermal-structural design of the external skins of second-generation reusable launch vehicles. An Advanced Interactive Discovery Environment (AIDE), which is a computer-based infrastructure specifically designed for this course, is used to support both synchronous and asynchronous communications amongst the team members and with the faculty. Extensive surveys of the students, together with faculty observations, indicate that proper use of collaboration tools can facilitate effective geographically-dispersed design teams, making them as successful as local design teams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-255
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers, Design Engineering Division (Publication) DE
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003
Event2003 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress - Washington, DC, United States
Duration: Nov 15 2003Nov 21 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering


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