AAE student, advisor co-author 'best paper' at ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition

Georgios Georgalis and Karen Marais, an associate professor in AAE, co-authored “Assessment of Project-Based Learning Courses Using Crowd Signals.”
student
Georgios Georgalis

Project-based learning is a growing component of engineering education in the U.S., and engineering programs are required to provide a culminating design experience that incorporates engineering standards and multiple constraints.

But how well do the projects prepare students for engineering challenges in professional practice?

That’s the answer an AAE Ph.D. student and his advisor explored, and the results earned “best conference paper” at the American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition in mid-June in Tampa, Florida.

Georgios Georgalis and Karen Marais, an associate professor in AAE, co-authored “Assessment of Project-Based Learning Courses Using Crowd Signals.” The paper considered one aspect of professional practice: Failure. It compared the frequency of certain types of systems engineering failure causes occurring in industry vs. in student design projects. Georgalis and Marais collected data from 18 student design projects over two semesters to identify when failures occur. They built statistical models that indicated correlations between specific actions and a particular failure cause occurring. Using that information, they gave suggestions to instructors, intent on giving students more opportunities to experience failure.

“The conference was a great experience overall,” Georgalis said. “I had many people approach me and give me positive feedback and thoughts about our paper. It was the second time our research group won one of the best paper awards, so people at our division were very excited that we managed to submit high quality papers two years in a row.”

Georgalis and Marais were invited to present their research at a special awards session at the ASEE 2020 Conference on June 21-24 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.