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A Case Study of a Group-project in Aerospace Design Engineering
Martyn Pressnell
Original Location Chapter 17, in Using Group-Based Learning in Higher Education, Lin Thorley & Roy Gregory (eds), published1994 by Kogan Page, London, pps 123-126
Reproduced on the HE Academy website by kind permission of Taylor and Francis Ltd

Key words Group projects, Aerospace Design Engineering, assessment Summary This Chapter presents a study of group projects in the final year of an engineering degree which aims to simulate the engineering design processes and the personal skills required.

About HEC: HEC was a national project of the Royal Society of Arts focused on encouraging higher education institutions to develop programmes that enabled students to become more personally capable, and to share their experiences with others. HEC was set up in 1988 and was hosted by Leeds University and Leeds Metropolitan University from 1991 to 1997 and by Middlesex University till 2004. The HEC Archive comprises items submitted to national conferences, many of which have been published either in compilations or in HEC’s journal, Capability. As such the HEC Archive provides insights into issues and initiatives during that period.

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It will be helpful to take arbitrary decisions from time to time in order that work can proceed.From Using Group-based Learning in Higher Education. Political and economic factors will invariably be present and will tend to produce obstacles only overcome by the most persistent design organization. At that time there will be relatively few engineers involved. even if ultimately the decision proves second best. but may not simply produce another airliner of similar capability. the group must forward plan and not be thrown into disarray by events. namely wing. while ensuring that some group members pursue aerodynamics by self-directed reading and research. In other words. Their work is largely self-directed. Responsibilities for these roles are specified in some detail in the project brief. The course aims to simulate the situation which occurs in industry during the early stages of a new aircraft design. They will need to study competitive machines. with the necessary financial capacity to launch a new aircraft. The work requirement for each student designer is individually defined. The student team leader. in that it is one of the most critical issues currently facing the aerospace industry. The project represents one module of student work. Organization of the project The task specified for the project is topical. responsible for organization and management. fuselage. or even fully specify. tail unit. there is no step-by-step sequence by which the task will logically be accomplished. but they will have a good deal of experience. This situation is reflected in industry. A member of staff is attached to each project group. About 100 students operate in groups of five or six. Lin Thorley & Roy Gregory (eds). an aircraft in the time available. in accordance with a five-week rota. Indeed. namely the regional airliner. Kogan Page 1994 Chapter Seventeen A Case Study of a Group Project in Aerospace Design Engineering Martyn S Pressnell Introduction As the culmination of three years of study towards the BEng in aerospace engineering. For 2 . Roles are specified as group leader and designers for five aircraft sections. students undertake a group aircraft design study. plays a unique role in promoting the harmony of the team and must be elected by the group with some care. Each student is expected to work as a collaborative partner within his or her team. During this project students find that the difficulty of problems associated with group dynamics rivals that of the technical problems of aircraft design. The design groups are expected to imagine that they represent an international consortium of manufacturers. Each group must nominate all individuals to group roles by the end of the first day of project work. It would then be important that the group makes full use of the advice immediately available. to face the technical issues together. with staff acting in a consultative or advisory role. where projects are managed to facilitate the interplay of all disciplines. Students are assigned to groups in a random order. It may be that a group wanting to do aerodynamics work will have a supervisor expert in structural design. and to share the decision taking. It is recognized that students will not be able to fully design. engine installation and undercarriage. The intention is that they will sample the design experience and go as far as time and other constraints permit.

Common material such as specifications and drawings. • • • • 3 . with contributions from some or all of the other members. However. after which an overall assessment is made jointly by the supervisors present. The supervisor moderates and awards the marks as judged appropriate. The actual presentation of the group's work is made by the leader. The course concludes with submission of portfolios of work and group presentations. including the methods of manufacture. a summary of calculations undertaken. It is the responsibility of the group. a market strategy. and the assessment reflects this throughout. Kogan Page 1994 marketing reasons their solution must be modern and distinctive in style. There are 16 student groups. The time allowed is 40 minutes. The supervisor meets with the whole group to receive general comments. and to ask pertinent questions of individuals. There is also librarian support. in private consultation. the last week of which will be for staff/peer assessment of each student's effort. ahead of. or certainly at. as the group decides. staff will act in the role of consultant. Finally. The project is timetabled to operate for three hours per week. suitably indexed and introduced. which is similar to the students' form. drawings to show the layout of specific components assigned to the individual role. or tables. Typically the portfolio should contain: • a summary of work undertaken. This cycles through a rota. general aspects of the aircraft designed. The emphasis is on team activity. The portfolio of individual work is a collection of the work undertaken. Schematic drawings and details as defined for the particular designer. In the case of the leader. each member being equally rewarded. Others may comment on working as part of a team. with the guidance of staff as required. In the four phases there is a strong element of peer assessment. Lin Thorley & Roy Gregory (eds). The programme is divided into four phases of supervision. Portfolios are assessed by a panel of supervisors. in exceptional circumstances. 48 per cent). acting under the general direction of their chosen leader. a description of common policies adopted. if a member plays no part in the preparation or presentation. so that each staff member handles eight groups in total. each group member being required to complete an assessment of each of his or her peers in the group. a group presentation (22 per cent) and an individual portfolio of work (30 per cent). The leader of a group should also include a summary of the organizational aspects of work specific to the role of leader. a zero mark may be recorded. Assessment Marks come from four individual phase assessments of 12 per cent each. the' state of the art'.From Using Group-based Learning in Higher Education. The individual assessment is then discussed between the leader of the group and the supervisor. the supervisor discusses the work of the leader in his or her absence. with the results presented as graphs. During supervision. Grades are published after the second and fourth phases. or is absent from the proceedings for no good reason. any work relevant to the individual role being specially identified. using a phase assessment pro forma. to maximize this consultancy opportunity. The group is awarded a joint mark. completing the staff assessment form. Each member of academic staff supervises two groups at the rate of one hour per week per group. Emphasis will be on the group leader to organize and manage their group's effort. (ie. tutored by eight academic staff. using the letter grades A (excellent) to F (fail).

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