The Terrific Trio: QUEST’s Research Team Presents in Montreal!

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On May 31st, 2014 QUEST sent a delegation to The Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conference in Montreal, Canada. Max Cooper, Kylie Goodell, and Dr. Jeffrey Herrmann joined over 16,000 attendees from industry, government, and academia to present their research. A terrific opportunity for QUEST to expand its brand and learn from leading professionals in their field, “The event was très bien!”

Assessing the Learning Outcomes of a Multidisciplinary Undergraduate
For QUEST’s first presentation of the conference, Kylie and Dr. Herrmann presented on a hot topic in academia: learning outcomes assessment. Learning outcomes assessment is gaining traction in higher education as universities and programs must prove the worth of student investment, and QUEST is certainly a pioneer in its implementation of the process. Based on empirical data, Kylie and Dr. Herrmann found that, on a cohort-by-cohort basis, QUEST students show significant improvement in their “QUEST skills” throughout the program. These skills include the ability to apply quality management tools, use quantitative and qualitative data and work in multidisciplinary teams, among others.

The conference provided a great venue for Kylie and Dr. Herrmann to collaborate with other programs and researchers on this topic. Already, improvements to QUEST’s learning assessment process are in the works. Under the leadership of Dr. Jim Purtilo, a website is currently in development that will make the learning assessment process more personalized, real-time, and collaborative. Additionally, Kylie and Dr. Herrmann are reaching out to other programs and faculty to both promote and improve their process.

Industry Sponsored Capstone Projects: Factors Influencing Success
Joining forces once again, the powerhouse Professor-TA combo of Kylie and Max presented their research on factors influencing the success of QUEST’s 490 projects. Pooling their data from project scope reviews, faculty assessments, and client evaluations, Kylie and Max attempted to discover which elements of 490 projects were key indicators for success. They found that the “Strategic Value” of projects was the most significant indicator of success.

“Strategic Value measures the value of working with a particular client or on a specific project. Factors such as current events and industry trends can boost a project’s potential for impact due to immediacy of these types of opportunities.” (Cooper & Goodell)

Additionally, the duo identified an interesting dynamic existing within 490 projects. While the student-client relationship is important, the student-program and program-client relationships are linked to high potential for capstone project success. Recognizing that the program is integral in both significant stakeholder relationships, these findings may indicate the importance of QUEST professor as facilitators in the sustained success of 490 projects.

The findings of QUEST’s terrific trio certainly provide valuable insight. Their impact is even more significant, considering the sparse research currently in existence regarding the QUEST program. As Max remarked, “It was eye-opening to attend ISERC as a current student and see firsthand how QUEST is pioneering research in higher education.” QUEST students and alumni are certainly encouraged to develop and participate in future research projects.

Max, Kylie, and Dr. Herrmann’s papers, Assessing the Learning Outcomes of a Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Honors Program (Goodell & Herrmann) and Industry Sponsored Capstone Projects: Factors Influencing Success (Cooper & Goodell), can be found in this month’s issue of QUEST Press.

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