Businness Management

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Date Submitted: 02/06/2011 04:19 AM

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A Risk Assessment Tool For Managing Student Design Projects


Many design projects done by undergraduate students carry a high degree of risk because of inexperience. In many cases students tend to ignore the risks and focus on the project elements that are the most familiar. To aid senior project students in this process the author has developed a method that is relatively objective and simple to apply. The outcome is an identified set of risks that student teams can use to prioritize issues and focus efforts. This is done by listing all major project concepts, components, methods, alternate approaches, and more. A ranking is then assigned based upon clear criteria. The designers must then justify a lower risk score. And, high risk elements are addressed first. Throughout the project students are expected to drive down the risk throughout the project until delivery, when the risk is negligible.



At Grand Valley State University project work is integrated through the curriculum. Students begin with design-build projects in the freshman year. The complexity of the project work is increased until the senior project. The course projects are used to teach students the fundamentals of project management, and provide experience in free form decision making and project execution. The senior project experience is positioned as a finishing exercise before the students join industry. Senior projects involves the design and build of production equipment, test equipment, and new product designs for local companies. In 2009 the total materials costs were over $170,000 for 12 projects. These projects must meet industrial standards and require approval by the sponsor. And, while failure can be acceptable in course projects it is not permissible for the senior project.


Given these requirements the projects are carefully selected and managed to ensure success1. Tools used include...