Project Details


Today's technical challenges are becoming more and more complex. Engineering organizations around the world are becoming increasingly team-based in order to deal with these challenges. In order to be effective, engineering teams need to have strong technical skills and strong interpersonal skills. Effective team communication and a team working environment that supports active engagement of all members are essential components of successful teamwork. These technical and interpersonal skills take time to learn, so it is important to understand how they develop as engineers engage in the design process and when suitable interventions might be needed to help engineers learn them more effectively. To this end, this research will explore the role of team communication patterns on engineering student team performance throughout the design process. The study will investigate the role that the composition of the team plays in these dynamic relationships. This research will provide evidence regarding when team training interventions should be applied, as well as which types of interventions will be most effective at specific points of the design process. The research findings will benefit the broad engineering community by providing a free collection of tested team interventions that are designed for use with any engineering team, working in any context. Engineering educators and practitioners can use these interventions to study their teams, improve their team performance, and develop new research-based team interventions. When adopted in professional settings, these interventions have the potential to lead to improved team performance, which will save time and resources that are at a premium in industry contexts. All of these results will benefit society by improving the team skills and training of engineering students and practitioners, which will support engineering innovation across academia and industry.

The technical objectives of this proposal are: (1) to develop a model of the impact of interpersonal risk-taking on engineering design team performance at each stage of the design process and the underlying role of team communication patterns; (2) to investigate how team composition (e.g., demographic, personality, cultural, and cognitive differences) influences team communication patterns and interpersonal risk-taking at each stage of the design process; and (3) to investigate team interventions that foster interpersonal risk-taking and improve engineering team performance. These objectives will be accomplished through long-term empirical investigations in project-based engineering design courses. This project will result in the creation of a model of engineering team effectiveness, which will serve as the guiding framework for engineering team research and will impact the ways in which teams are studied, their performance is quantified, and interventions are developed and implemented in engineering education and practice.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date9/15/188/31/22


  • National Science Foundation: $365,792.00


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