G. D. Chipman and T. F. Fuller, “Vertically Integrated Projects: Improving the Overall University Competition Experience,” ASME 2015 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, vol. 5, Nov. 2015.


Vertically Integrated Projects: Improving the Overall University Competition Experience
Beginning in 2009, Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) courses have been implemented at Georgia Tech. These VIP classes allow undergraduate students to receive academic credit for participating on teams that further faculty research efforts. The teams are multidisciplinary, vertically-integrated, and long-term. Participation on these teams has been shown to help students develop an understanding of project timelines, and effective project communication, while gaining other applicable real-world experience. EcoCAR 3 is the latest in a series of Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) sponsored by the Department of Energy since 1988. At Georgia Tech, the EcoCAR 3 team has been structured using the VIP program to improve the all-around experience of faculty members and the graduate and undergraduate students. Based on Georgia Tech’s previous experience in EcoCAR 1, the team leadership hoped to increase participation of undergraduate students, improve collaboration between students and faculty members, and raise retention levels. The team has shown improvements in each of these categories through implementation of the VIP program. Some of the primary challenges that the team experienced during the first year of competition are also presented here, along with plans for further improvement in future years of the competition.