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Teamwork Is Rewarded At Clarkson

For more than a decade, teams of Clarkson University students have annually labored over engineering design projects, solving problems, working as a team, building mechanical and electrical systems, and keeping within a budget. The experience gained by participating on these teams is one of the most rewarding aspects of their education, according to the students, and develops skills that are highly valued by employers.

The SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) program, which coordinates 14 different student engineering design team projects and involves more than 250 students each year, has just received national recognition for excellence.

Fifteen faculty and staff connected with SPEED have been selected to receive the 2001 Boeing Outstanding Educator Award. The Award is presented annually by The Boeing Company to educators who have made exceptional contributions to improving undergraduate engineering education.

The Award is given for programs that effectively develop graduates with the desired attributes of an engineer. Engineers who are most likely to advance in their profession not only have technical knowledge, but also have the ability to communicate well, work on teams, and solve problems creatively. The attributes sought by Boeing when hiring engineers – abilities that are developed at Clarkson through the SPEED program – include:

  • A good understanding of engineering science fundamentals
  • A good understanding of design and manufacturing processes
  • A multi-disciplinary, systems perspective
  • A basic understanding of the context in which engineering is practiced
  • Good communication skills
  • High ethical standards
  • An ability to think both critically and creatively – independently and cooperatively
  • Flexibility, the ability and self-confidence to adapt to rapid or major change
  • Curiosity and a desire to learn for life
  • A profound understanding of the value of teamwork

Each year, Clarkson’s SPEED teams are presented with real-world problems, such as cleaning up a hazardous waste site or designing a snowmobile with reduced emissions and noise. The team must work to design and construct a solution to that problem, which they then demonstrate at a regional or national competition. Trying to meet deadlines, solve the problem within environmental, economic, and social constraints, and work effectively as a team provide the most valuable learning experiences.

Faculty advisers typically volunteer more than 120 hours each semester to ensure that the SPEED teams have a rewarding learning experience. The individuals receiving the 2001 Boeing Outstanding Educator Award are Provost Tony Collins, SPEED Director Tina Yuille and professors Jim Carroll, Stefan Grimberg, Ron LaFleur, Maria Lopez, Levon Minnetyan, John Moosbrugger, Thomas Ortmeyer, Susan Powers, Eric Thacher, Ken Visser, David Wick, Steve Yurgartis and Amy Zander.

Established in 1997 with a grant from General Motors, the SPEED program provides financial and administrative support for the student teams. SPEED currently receives funding from Eastman Kodak Company, General Electric, Corning Incorporated and Alcoa Inc.

Among the teams participating in SPEED are: Alcoa Experiential Learning Program; Construction Management; Concrete Canoe; Design, Build and Fly; Environmental Design; FIRST Robotics; Formula SAE; Mini-Baja; Odyssey of the Mind; Partners in Education; Solar Vehicle; Clean Snowmobile Challenge; Steel Bridge; and Timber Bridge.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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