Applying the Principles of Project Management to a Collegiate Automotive Engineering Design Project
Dvorkin, William Nathan
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The Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team of Virginia Tech is a collegiate automotive engineering design team that reengineers production vehicles to reduce environmental impact while maintaining vehicle marketability. The team Project Manager is responsible for coordinating high-level management and planning activities with the goal of better aligning the team with business and automotive industry practices. Project management responsibilities within the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team are divided into four categories: human resource management, schedule management, cost management, and risk management. This document outlines how project management strategies were researched and adapted from industry practices for use by the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team in achieving its goals. The human resource management strategy adopts onboarding principles that better prepare new students to become effective team members. By restructuring the organization and incorporating onboarding strategies, annual turnover is reduced from 71% to 44%. The decrease in turnover is enabled by the successful creation of an independent study program which trains newcomers to become effective team members. The program can be improved for the future by further developing the curriculum. The employed schedule management strategy develops the project schedule iteratively as technical information reveals itself through task progress. Utilizing this process makes schedule management possible in an environment with incomplete information and pressing deadlines. This strategy experienced limited success due to the lack of team and project scheduling experience on behalf of several key members of the process. The cost management strategy is designed to gather detailed financial data to perform an earned-value analysis and create improved budgets. By understanding income and expense patterns, the Project Manager can create economic forecasts to determine the economic viability of the team. The strategy was successfully implemented and allowed the team to gather valuable financial data. The risk management strategy identifies and quantifies technical risks associated with vehicle development. By focusing more resources on high-risk activities, the team can improve preparation for competition where the vehicle is judged according engineering quality and build progress. The strategy was successful because it identified critical hazards to the project schedule and scope, but can be improved by broadening the process to account for a wider variety of risks.
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