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An Initial Comparison Between Geographically Distributed and Non-Distributed Student Teams in Design Projects

[+] Author Affiliations
José E. Lugo

University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez Campus, Mayagüez, PR

Constanza Miranda

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile

Paper No. DETC2015-46952, pp. V003T04A011; 8 pages
  • ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 3: 17th International Conference on Advanced Vehicle Technologies; 12th International Conference on Design Education; 8th Frontiers in Biomedical Devices
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, August 2–5, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5710-6
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


Today, it is common for design engineers around the world to work in distributed teams on a shared project. However, their exposure to shared projects is limited in academia as it poses a series of challenges. This paper explores teams of students working in a design project with its members located in the United States and Chile. During the yearlong study, students tracked their hourly dedication to team tasks while solving a common cross-cultural challenge: designing products to improve mobility in aging populations. To see if team diversity contributed to innovative solutions, teams of students worked in an orchestrated manner, within their regions for a whole academic period. Over a second semester, students from both geographic regions interacted as distributed teams to face the design challenge. Data of the duration and timing of each of the teams design activities and final products were collected. The data were explored to seek similarities and differences between co-located and distributed teams. The effect of distributed teams on product development is discussed, and the challenges and benefits of this practice are explored. Also, recommendations are given for future studies regarding distributed teams.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME
Topics: Design , Teams , Students



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