As part of the requirements for IE 361, you will carry out a process-oriented quality improvement project with a (real) client of your own choosing/recruiting. To the extent possible, you should attempt to carry through an iteration of the process-oriented quality assurance cycle laid out in Table 1.1 of the text.
A. Purposes of the Project
The purpose of the project is to practice with the course material and to strengthen your skills of problem formulation and solution, cooperation with others, and professional oral and written communication.
B. Group Size
Each group will ordinarily consist of 4 team members. Under exceptional circumstances, teams of smaller size may be formed, but only with the explicit prior approval of your instructor. No more than one graduate student may be a member of any group. Students will organize their own groups, and are responsible for arranging a project with a client organization.
C. Project Milestones/Reports
1. An initial project proposal is due February 4. This one page report should name the team members and proposed client, and should outline the problem on which the team and client plan to cooperate. Provide contact information for your client, preferably including an email address. While the exact final form of your project may not be known at this point, the proposal should not be vague -- you need to describe a solid idea and plan for how you will accomplish it. Your group will schedule a meeting with the instructor during February 5-7 to discuss your plans.
2. An interim progress report
is due March 25. By this point your problem should be well
formulated and an initial plan for solution be agreed on among
team members and client. This progress report must include
a careful and detailed problem statement, an outline of the
planned solution with a time table for completion and a
statement initialed by the client indicating his/her agreement
with your plans. For most projects, at least some data
collection and analysis should also be completed at this
point, and these should be briefly summarized in the progress
The lab period on March 11 will be
spent in informal discussion of project progress. Each
team will prepare a 5-minute slide presentation (PowerPoint or
pdf) by one team member describing the problem, progress to date
and plan for completion. These informal presentations will
be followed by class discussion. Bring paper copies of the
slides for your instructor to mark on during the presentation
and discussion. Be sure your use language everyone can
understand (not company- or trade-specific jargon you've learned
from your client).
3. A three part, professional quality final report will summarize your work on this project. You will produce:
b) An oral report,
recorded using PowerPoint, will be due April 25, and will be
placed on the course website for peer review. Guidelines for
this presentation are:
ii) Report length will be 10+/-1 minutes. (Practice and time yourselves! Deviations from this guideline will not be well received.)
iii) The presentation will be produced using PowerPoint, including overheads and audio. You should begin with a title slide, and produce other slides outlining your main points, giving drawings/schematics of parts or machines you worked on, showing graphical summaries of data you collected and used, et cetera. Be sure beforehand that your figure details and fonts are large and clear enough to be easily seen.
iv) The report should provide adequate background for a listener with no prior knowledge of your client's business or your project, and then go on to emphasize methodology, obstacles overcome and the results/quality improvements obtained.
v) Each student will be asked to
review a subset of the reports produced by other groups
during the week of April 28.
iii) A table of contents for the whole report including appendices.
iv) An introduction giving background to the problem, sketches or photos of equipment involved and a quantitative assessment of the quality situation at the beginning of team involvement. (Be sensitive to matters of corporate security here. Don't photograph anything unless you have explicit permission to do so.)
v) A description of the work done by the team in search of a problem solution/quality improvement. Although details of calculations, data collection sheets, etc. should be deferred to appendices, this section should "tell the whole story" of the team's efforts using whatever prose, graphs, tables, sketches, etc. are needed.
vi) A recommendations/results/project impact section. Ideally, team efforts will lead to recommendations for the client that can be implemented and their impact evaluated and reported in the final write-up. At a minimum, realistic (practically implementable) recommendations and justification for them should be included in the report.
vii) Appendices. Include as appendices carefully documented and organized lists of data collected by the team (include date, technician, unit of measure, etc.), listings of computer programs written for the project, fully annotated computer outputs, detailed "hand" calculations, a reference list and copies of the project proposal and progress report. (The relevance of any such appendix material should be immediately clear to the reader. Do not leave a reader guessing why the appendix material was included. Appendix material included should be referred to in the body of the report. Be sure any appendices are clearly labeled!)
viii) Copies of the visuals you use in your final oral presentation.
ix) Sealed envelopes (one from each team member) containing an assessment of percentage of total team effort provided by every team member. (If it becomes clear that the project work load was seriously unbalanced, your instructor may assign different project grades to different team members.)
x) A receipt from your client
indicating that he/she has received a copy of your final
written report AND an evaluation by the client of the
quality and value of your work to his or her organization in
the form of completed ABET Evaluation Tables, one for each
team member. (The blank table will be posted on the
course web page.) The receipt and ABET tables may be
sent to the instructor directly by email if the client
prefers, but in any case must reach him by the report
deadline of Friday, May 3. (In your early discussions
with prospective clients, be sure you make them aware that
your instructor will need this feedback from them;
this is a relatively new requirement, and some previous
clients will not be aware of it.)
Your instructor will respond verbally to your project proposal during your group's meeting during the week of February 3 to discuss your approach to your client's situation. Your instructor will provide feedback to your interim report after March 25. Your instructor will be available to provide "free" (ungraded) feedback on your visuals for the in-class presentation, and on drafts (in final, complete form) of your report through Friday, April 18. He will also prepare a summary sheet of his overall assessment of your work that you may see after course is completed.
E. Acceptable Topics and Grading Criteria
An ideal project will focus on a client process producing a good or service, complete a logical analysis of how that process works, formulate appropriate measures of process performance, collect process data, assess and make any changes needed to establish process stability, characterize "stable process performance" and work to the improvement of the process that has been brought into stability. The ideal project has a client who owns the problem/process and works closely with the team, allowing it substantial "hands on" (or near hands on) contact with the process, and stands to gain real benefit from successful project completion. The client could be a manufacturing engineer, a shop manager, a Q.C. analyst, a small business owner, etc. Ideally, techniques used in the project will be drawn from those discussed in IE 361. Further guidelines and advice on topic selection will be given by the instructor during class meetings.
It is unlikely that every project team will find an "ideal" project. Project grades will be assigned partially on the basis of topic quality (potential value to the client and alignment with the goals of IE 361), partially on the basis of the technical merit of the team effort, and partially on the quality and professionalism of the reports produced by the team (including the proposal, progress report and display). The final report should leave no doubt in the reader's mind that the work done was truly motivated by a desire to improve the client's process, and not merely a numerical demonstration of textbook formulae using the client's data.
F. Project Grade Guidelines