Building Successful Student Teams in the Engineering Classroom

  • Stephanie G. Adams


Over the past twenty years industrial organizations have undergone many changes in the area of work performance. Teamwork, as a vehicle for work performance, continues to emerge as an industrial phenomenon. When utilized effectively teamwork has been shown to lead to an increase in productivity, a reduction in costs, a rise in employee involvement and a flattening of the organizational structure. The movement towards teamwork has taken on the proportions of an avalanche roaring through firms and it has become the single most consistent strategy for continuous improvement in quality and competitiveness in most organizations [17]. Employers look for more than technical skills when assessing the professional competence of engineers during the hiring process [7], [23]. A study conducted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) found that mastery of teamwork and communication skills were the top desirable attributes of graduating engineering students [1]. Unfortunately, some employers do not think new engineers possess these skills [1], [23]. Most employers report that new engineers entering the industry are astute and well prepared but also believe that improvements need to be made in areas such as public speaking and presentation skills, report writing and the ability to work in teams. These skills, along with interpersonal interaction and conflict mediation, were coined ?performance skills? by Seat and Lord and are becoming increasingly essential for recent graduates seeking employment [23].