Evaluation of a team project in an introduction to software engineering course for aerospace engineers

Mary Lynn Brannon, Oranuj Janrathitikarn, Lyle Long

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Software engineering plays an important role in many industries, especially aerospace where the aircraft, spacecraft, and ground systems are often very large and complex, and safety and/or the mission require very safe software. In order to prepare aerospace engineering students to be more competitive in the aerospace workforce, Introduction to Software Engineering was developed at a the Pennsylvania State University in 2007. This senior-level course was designed to present software engineering concepts to aerospace students who have some background in computer programming, but no prior knowledge in software engineering. Students majoring in aerospace can select the software engineering course or an electrical engineering course as a requirement for the aerospace major in the eighth semester. In addition students can also take the course as an aerospace engineering elective or to fulfill requirements for minors in computational science or information science and technology. During the first two years, the course provided the materials based solely on lectures and talks from guest speakers. To provide a more real-world experience to students, a student team project was added to the course in the spring semester 2009, where they had to use the software engineering concepts. The pedagogical approach was to incorporate peer learning through teamwork that would involve the students in a problem-based learning experience. The team project was designed with three objectives: to provide hands-on experience in software engineering through the development of a relatively small software system, to simulate the real working environment in a large company by having the students in the class work together as a team, and to emphasize the communication and collaboration skills among small groups in the software development model which are crucial skills in developing large and complex software systems. The purpose of this paper is to describe the student team project including a discussion of how it improved the learning experiences of students and to share assessment data of student perceptions of working on a team. Preliminary findings indicate that participation in the team project increased the students' awareness of the importance of software engineering in the Aerospace industry. Individuals who are involved in the design and development of real world projects in software engineering courses and pedagogy may be interested in this paper.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010
Event2010 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Louisville, KY, United States
Duration: Jun 20 2010Jun 23 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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