‘Helpful,’ ‘Irritating,’ and ‘Smart’: Student Perspectives on Teams in a Mechanical Engineering Program

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


An ability to work well in a team is one professional skill employers say is vital to success for recent college graduates. However, while much research has explored aspects of team dynamics, few studies have explored the ways in which students develop interpersonal and teaming skills during their undergraduate career. This paper presents case studies for three students from a twenty-six-student research study. Using qualitative tools such as thematic analysis and text-driven content analysis, each case explores a different issue routinely experienced in undergraduate engineering design teams - diligent isolation, social loafing, and potential gender bias. This research will be of interest to faculty who teach and/or study team communication, especially in engineering programs. A possible application of this research is to design curricular materials that place teaming instruction earlier in a degree program and develop more frequent and effective accountability milestones related to teaming and leadership in capstone courses.

Publication Title

2018 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (ProComm)