Out-of-Class Group Project / IE 361 / Spring 2014

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 report.

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:

D. Instructor Feedback

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

G. Schedule Summary