Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Integrating teamwork and communication into traditional engineering curricula

Michael Thomas Peterson, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation integrates 2 soft skills, communication & teamwork, into a traditional Industrial Engineering course (MIE 353, Engineering Economic Decision Making) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in the fall of 1997. This will be considered the program group. A team project, formally presented at the end of the course & graded by neutral observers to pre-set standards, supplemented the lecture material. A comparison or control group was concurrently measured in IE 312, Engineering Economic Analysis, (comparable engineering content & team project requirements, no exposure to communication & teamwork material) at Western New England College in Springfield, Massachusetts. Multiple assessments took place at both schools to measure performance & attitude differences. A University of Massachusetts alumni survey (same questionnaire) was also conducted to compare to the student data on the importance of communication & teamwork to their career success. Due to limited sample sizes at each school, this research is considered a "pilot study". The preponderance of the assessment data tend to support the Hypotheses. Rationale & motivation for this study follows: Engineering curriculum designers face several diverse stakeholders with often opposing needs. These stakeholders include their customers (the students) & their investing families, society & the local community, industry, graduate schools (both research & application oriented), accreditation boards, & other university departments & schools. Industry, as it always has, requires solid technical foundations; the "hard" skills, such as computer modeling, the sciences, analytic decision making & competence in the specific engineering discipline. Given worldwide competitiveness & complexity, accelerating product & service dynamics, & increasingly sophisticated customers, industry has incremented the hard skills above with a set of "soft" interpersonal skills, such as communication, teamwork, project management, delegation & leadership. To survive & thrive, industry has raised its expectation level of engineering graduates, as well as the engineering schools that produce them. Industry does not want to take on the entire soft training burden.

Subject Area

Industrial engineering|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Peterson, Michael Thomas, "Integrating teamwork and communication into traditional engineering curricula" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9909203.