Presentations & Publications


About VIP

The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program and Consortium: Enabling Everyone to Work Together


The Social Web of Engineering Education: Knowledge Exchange in Vertically Integrated Project Teams

Intellectual Property Awareness  Jeffrey R. Kuester Presentation


Publication Abstract
J. Sonnenberg-Klein, R. T. Abler, and E. J. Coyle, “Correlation between Academic Credit-use Policies and Student Persistence in Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) Courses,” presented at the 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, 2018.
In the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program, undergraduates earn academic credit for their participation in long-term, large-scale, multidisciplinary project teams that are created at the request of faculty to assist them with their research and other innovative activities. The students contribute their disciplinary skills to the project, collaborate with students from other disciplines, and learn and practice many professional skills. A key to launching and maintaining productive VIP teams is having students participate for multiple semesters, sometimes up to six semesters. This allows students to develop deeper expertise and take on increasing levels of responsibility. Academic departments have established a range of credit-use policies for VIP courses, with some departments incentivizing multiple semesters of participation, with different incentives and varying thresholds for each policy. Beyond curricular policies, the number of semesters students participate in VIP may be affected by matches/mismatches between students and their instructors’ departments, as well as student academic rank in their first semester of VIP. This study describes policies for the four academic units with highest enrollments in VIP at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and examines the number of semesters students (N = 869) participate in VIP by policy, by academic rank, and by matches-mismatches between student and instructor departments. In a secondary analysis, persistence rates are compared for a degree program before and after an incentivizing credit-use policy was established (N = 45). Results show correlation between higher persistence and two policies: 1) allowing all VIP credits to count as in-major electives after a minimum number are earned; and 2) allowing students to fulfill a design sequence requirement through VIP, with no additional planning/requirements beyond the normal design sequence. The study employed chi-square analysis for all but one analysis, because assumptions for analysis of variance were not met. These findings will be of use to existing and prospective VIP Programs, as well as institutions and departments seeking to increase student persistence in undergraduate research.
J. Sonnenberg-Klein, R. T. Abler, and E. J. Coyle, “Social Network Analysis: Peer Support and Peer Management in Multidisciplinary, Vertically Integrated Teams,” Accepted, 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, 2018.
In the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program, undergraduates earn academic credit for their participation in long-term, large-scale projects. Teams are created at the request of faculty and are embedded in their ongoing research/innovation efforts. Students can participate for multiple semesters and up to three years. Two important elements of VIP teams are peer-to-peer support and peer project management. Encouraging students to assist each other (peer support), and to be aware of each other’s work and hold each other accountable (peer management) shifts ownership of key aspects of the project to students, thus decreasing instructor time spent on low and mid-level operational/logistics issues. Through social network analysis of peer evaluations (N=483), this paper quantifies peer support and management between students on VIP teams at the Georgia Institute of Technology, examining patterns within individual teams and across the site. A previous study found that within teams, students interacted more often with students from majors other than their own and more often with students of other races/ethnicities than their own. Another previous study found stronger connections between students within academic ranks (sophomore to sophomore, junior to junior, etc.). To better understand dynamics within VIP teams, this analysis considers how 1) academic rank, 2) student major, and 3) number of semesters in VIP affect student interactions in peer support and peer management. The study looks at team-level interactions as well as program-wide patterns, providing a wide view of VIP student engagement across many different projects and teams. The results and method of analysis would be of interest to current and prospective VIP sites, as well as programs seeking to develop or quantify multidisciplinary student experiences.
J. Sonnenberg-Klein, R. T. Abler, and E. J. Coyle, “Diversity and Student Persistence in the Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) Course Sequence,” presented at the 2018 Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity (CoNECD), 2018.
While historically underserved students derive differentially greater benefits from participation in research with faculty, they engage in the activity at lower rates than their peers. In contrast to the national trend, the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology enrolls representative proportions of Black/African American students and Hispanic/Latino students with respect to the campus population. This study examines student persistence in the VIP course sequence with respect to race and ethnicity. The VIP model is unique, in that it fully engages faculty; is cost effective, building on existing faculty research interests and efforts; and is fully scalable, with the potential to serve every student at a given institution. The model has been adopted by 24 institutions of varying sizes and varying levels of research activity, including large research institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic Serving Institutions. The VIP implementation at Georgia Tech is not tailored to serve specific subgroups, but aims to serve all students. With current enrollments of 900 students each semester and continued growth, serving every student is a realistic possibility. This paper examines student persistence in the VIP course sequence, and provides an overview of the VIP Program, including common elements across VIP sites, prior research on student interactions within teams by race/ethnicity, and aspects of the Georgia Tech implementation of VIP which may contribute to student diversity within the program. Findings indicate that students of different races and ethnicities persist in the VIP course sequence at equal rates.
Choi, J.-E., & Kim, H. (2017). Vertically integrated projects (VIP) at Inha University: The effect of convergence project education on learning satisfaction. 2017 IEEE 6th International Conference on Teaching, Assessment, and Learning for Engineering (TALE), 436–443.

Due to the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution in the 21st century, people with abilities based on convergence thinking are required in various fields of society. In addition, there is a growing interest in emphasizing the innovation of knowledge through academic, industrial, and technological convergence, and in how to foster convergent human resources as the scope of creativity expands. To this end, it has become necessary to change educational practices in higher educational institutions. Inha University began developing a convergence education curriculum at the Innovation Center for Engineering Education in 2013 to cultivate undergraduate students with convergence competency. This paper describes the implications of the results of multi-year, multi-disciplinary convergency education and the effectiveness of various convergence education methods for continuous education improvement. The VIP (Vertically Integrated Project) course, which has been run every semester at Inha University since the spring semester of 2014, is designed to give students practical research experiences connected with the industry in advance and apply actual projects in which professors participate to undergraduate education. The curriculum is designed to improve students' major knowledge, research skills, and collaboration skills by teaming up multi-year and multi-disciplinary students. In addition, the effectiveness of convergence education is analyzed through various student evaluations every semester, and based on the results, the students' understanding of convergence education and the need for training convergent human resources in education institutions are further expanded.


Sonnenberg-Klein, J., & Abler, R. T., & Coyle, E. J., & Ai, H. H. (2017, June), Multidisciplinary Vertically Integrated Teams: Social Network Analysis of Peer Evaluations for Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program Teams Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio.

Twenty-two colleges and universities have implemented the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) model, which consists of multidisciplinary teams, long-term large-scale projects led by faculty, the enrollment of students from different academic ranks, and the ability for students to participate for multiple years. At Georgia Institute of Technology, analysis of university exit surveys found VIP participation correlated with a meaningful effect size on three questions: the degree to which students’ education contributed to their ability to work in a multidisciplinary team; their ability to work with individuals from diverse backgrounds; and their understanding of technology applications relevant to their field of study. Motivated by these findings, the VIP coordinators conducted a retrospective study of peer evaluations, applying social network analysis to quantify student interactions and identify patterns across the program. Results indicate that within the VIP Program, students interact more often with other majors and other races/ethnicities than their own major and race/ethnicity. Results support the findings of the previous study, providing evidence of VIP experiences related to working in diverse groups and in multidisciplinary teams. This paper reports the results of this analysis and plans for further work.


Bringardner, J. (2017, June), Developing a Vertically Integrated Project Course to Connect Undergraduates to Graduate Research Projects on Smart Cities Transportation Technology Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio.

This academic practice paper describes the design of a new Vertically Integrated Projects course on smart cities at New York University Tandon School of Engineering. It provides an overview of smart cities topics and related project-based design curriculum. The goal of this paper is to make this type of course transferable to other universities. Vertically Integrated Projects, a program based at Georgia Institute of Technology, has expanded to a consortium of 24 universities. The goal of this program is to provide long-term research projects to undergraduate students. Typically, five to thirty students from all grade levels and disciplines work under a faculty advisor on a team project. Sophomore to senior students receive one credit hour per semester and must enroll for at least three consecutive semesters. Requiring multiple semesters helps students to advance the project’s complexity and move through ranks of leadership. Teams recruit students at the sophomore level and can have leaders through the graduate level. This research paper documents the preparation of a Vertically Integrated Projects course focused on creating innovative technology for smart cities initiatives. Four sub-teams will be working on different aspects of smart cities: including quantified cities, autonomous vehicles, connected infrastructure, and shared mobility.


Ferri, A. A., & Ferri, B. H., & Lineberg, R., & Ferri, K. P., & Crawford, Z., & Tamayo, J. (2017, June), Use of a Vertically Integrated Project Team to Develop Hands-On Learning Modules Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio.

Hands On Learning (HOL) is an excellent way to engage and motivate students and to enhance learning of difficult concepts [Astatke, et al., 2013; Ferri, et al., 2013; Ferri, et al., 2016]. In engineering education, hands-on learning has traditionally involved instructional lads or studio classes, which are focused on these types of activities. Recently, however, people have started to advocate for the distributed use of mobile, hands-on learning experiments that can be done by students in non-traditional settings. For example, students can now do sophisticated experiments with student-owned equipment and can perform the experiments on their own, or in traditional classroom settings. The combination of miniaturization of electronics together with student ownership of measurement equipment and/or smartphones means that there are now many more possibilities for hands-on learning than ever before. The biggest problem, however, is to know what experiences are effective, and how best to execute them.
For the past two years, the authors have co-advised a Vertically-Integrated-Program on Hands-On Learning (VIP-HOL). VIP was developed by Coyle [Coyle, et al, 2014], and grew out of the EPICS program, for which Edward J. Coyle, Leah H. Jamieson, and William C. Oakes received the 2005 Gordon Prize from the NAE. The VIP program consists of teams of undergraduate students together with graduate students and faculty advisors who work on projects on a single theme. The unique aspect of VIP is that students remain in the program for several semesters, which allows them to transition from “learners to leaders” as they gain experience. At the authors’ institution, there are currently 41 VIP teams.
In Spring 2015, the authors launched their VIP team on HOL. The premise of the team is to make students active partners in the educational process. In particular, the students are able to suggest projects that would facilitate the learning in courses and subject areas that they have encountered. Hence, a topic that they struggled with can be suggested as the focus of a design project on which a subteam of a few students can work. The projects on which the VIP team has worked include hands-on experimental platforms that are used in lecture-based classrooms as well as self-paced tutorials that students can work on in a maker space. As an example of the latter, the students developed an autonomous RC car and have demonstrated it at a number of workshops that they ran to introduce students to microcontrollers and embedded systems. They also suggest portable hands-on learning modules, followed by efforts to prototype, test, and implement the module into engineering classes.
The full paper will describe the activities of the HOL group. Several projects that they have worked on will be described. Assessment data will be presented for the hands-on learning modules that they have developed to date.


Aazhang, B., & Abler, R. T., & Allebach, J. P., & Bost, L. F., & Cavallaro, J. R., & Chong, E. K. P., & Coyle, E. J., & Cullers, J. B. S., & Dennis, S. M., & Dong, Y., & Enjeti, P. N., & Filippas, A. V., & Froyd, J. E., & Garmire, D., & George, J., & Gilchrist, B. E., & Hohner, G. S., & Hughes, W. L., & Johnson, A., & Kim, C., & Kim, H., & Klenke, R. H., & Lagoudas, M. Z., & Llewellyn, D. C., & Lu, Y., & Lybarger, K. J., & Marshall, S., & Muralidharan, S., & Ohta, A. T., & Ortega, F. R., & Riskin, E. A., & Rizzo, D. M., & Ryder, C. R., & Shiroma, W. A., & Siller, T. J., & Sonnenberg-Klein, J., & Sadjadi, S. M., & Strachan, S. M., & Taheri, M., & Woods, G. L., & Zoltowski, C. B., & Fabien, B. C., & Johnson, P., & Collins, R., & Murray, P. (2017, June), Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Programs: Multidisciplinary Projects with Homes in Any Discipline Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio.

A survey of papers in the ASEE Multidisciplinary Engineering Division over the last three years shows three main areas of emphasis: individual courses; profiles of specific projects; and capstone design courses. However, propagating multidisciplinary education across the vast majority of disciplines offered at educational institutions with varying missions requires models that are independent of the disciplines, programs, and institutions in which they were originally conceived. Further, models that can propagate must be cost effective, scalable, and engage and benefit participating faculty. Since 2015, a consortium of twenty-four institutions has come together around one such model, the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program. VIP unites undergraduate education and faculty research in a team-based context, with students earning academic credits toward their degrees, and faculty and graduate students benefitting from the design/discovery efforts of their multidisciplinary teams. VIP integrates rich student learning experiences with faculty research, transforming both contexts for undergraduate learning and concepts of faculty research as isolated from undergraduate teaching. It provides a rich, cost-effective, scalable, and sustainable model for multidisciplinary project-based learning. (1) It is rich because students participate multiple years as they progress through their curriculum; (2) It is cost-effective since students earn academic credit instead of stipends; (3) It is scalable because faculty can work with teams of students instead of individual undergraduate research fellows, and typical teams consist of fifteen or more students from different disciplines; (4) It is sustainable because faculty benefit from the research and design efforts of their teams, with teams becoming integral parts of their research. While VIP programs share key elements, approaches and implementations vary by institution. This paper shows how the VIP model works across sixteen different institutions with different missions, sizes, and student profiles. The sixteen institutions represent new and long-established VIP programs, varying levels of research activity, two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), and two international universities. Theses sixteen profiles illustrate adaptability of the VIP model across different academic settings.


Abler, R. T., & Coyle, E. J., & Juhna, T., & Kim, H., & Marshall, S., & Pardo, M., & Sonnenberg-Klein, J., & Percybrooks, W. S. (2017, June), Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Programs at International Institutions: Multidisciplinary Projects with Homes in Any Discipline Paper presented at 2017 ASEE International Forum, Columbus , Ohio. Companion to the paper above, focusing on international implementations of VIP.  This presents: an overview of the VIP Consortium; the multidisciplinary nature of the program within and across institutions; and profiles of 4 international institutions and their implementations of the model. The profiled institutions are based in Colombia, Korea, Latvia, and Scotland.
Y.-H. Lu, T. J. Hacker, C. B. Zoltowski, and J. Allebach, (2016, June), "Cross-Cohort Research Experience for Project Management and Leadership Development," Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26604

Project management and leadership skills are essential for career development. However, in typical university settings, undergraduate students take different courses and work on different projects in different teams each semester. As a result, students lack opportunities to work on multi-year projects and develop the skills essential for long-term planning. To remedy this situation, our department has created elective courses that allow students from all years (first-year students to graduate students) to work on research projects under the supervision of faculty members and the mentorship of senior graduate students. These projects provide the opportunities for students to learn many skills essential in workplace, such as (1) understanding how projects are designed and managed; (2) taking responsibilities on different components in the projects; (3) learning computer tools for collaboration and integration; (4) developing leadership skills; (5) cultivating self-learning; and (6) improving communication, both speaking and writing. This paper reports one project that involves undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students. The project, now in its fifth year, builds computer tools for researchers, educators, and students using cloud computing for large-scale image analysis. The project has received an award in a student competition, and three research grants for international collaboration, entrepreneurship, and big data analytics, and produced more than a dozen research papers. This paper describes the project in detail and shares experiences on many crucial factors necessary for creating a successful cross-cohort research project. Research experience is not required in typical undergraduate curricula; thus, it is essential to recruit well qualified and interested students. From the beginning of this project, there was a clear goal to create software tools that would become available to the research community. The opportunity to serve real users is appealing to many students. In order to build software tools for users, this project has established rigorous procedures common in commercial software development such as version control, testing, documentation, and so on. Leadership development is another key component: if a student continues in this project over multiple semesters, the student may be promoted to lead a subteam or the entire team. In addition to learning technical skills, the team has participated in multiple student competitions and has won the second prize in one competition. This project also encourages entrepreneurship: a group of students plan to start a company after they have interviewed potential customers exploring the feasibility of commercializing the technology and investigating market-product match. Four foreign institutions are collaborators of the project and the students have experience working with these collaborators through video conferencing.



Ferri, A.A. and Ferri, B.H., “Blended Learning in a Rigid-Body Dynamics Course Using On-Line Lectures and Hands-On Experiments,” 2016 ASEE Conference and Exposition, New Orleans, LA, June 26-29, 2016. Winner of Best Paper Award from the ASEE Mechanics Division.

Rigid body dynamics is a foundational course that forms the basis for much of the ME curriculum in the mechanical systems area. Under the best of circumstances, the topic is challenging, but especially so when both two-dimensional (planar) and three-dimensional rigid body dynamics are covered in the same 3-hour semester class. To address these challenges, several changes were implemented in a section of Rigid Body Dynamics in the Fall of 2014 and continuing into Spring 2015. First, in class lecturing was replaced with online videos developed for two Coursera MOOCs on dynamics. Second, various types of active learning were introduced into the classroom. Of particular concern in this paper is the inclusion of experiments into the lecture portion of the class. These experiments are described in this paper and assessment results from the two sections of dynamics are presented and discussed. It was found that the students reacted very favorably to the experiments, as seen by a comparison of pre-, post-, and longitudinal surveys. It was also seen that experiments where students actually touched and performed the experiments were perceived as more valuable to the students compared with experiments performed by the instructor.


A. Trimble, W. Shiroma, D. Garmire, and A. Ohta, “Forming Multidisciplinary Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) Teams at the University of Hawaii: Challenges and Synergy”, 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, 2016.

The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program is characterized by large, multidisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students focused on long-term research problems aligned with the faculty mentor's field of interest. In terms of methodology, it follows a project-based cohort approach to education where students can potentially work on the same project over multiple years and with a familiar group of students. One of the challenges in running a VIP team is the multidisciplinary aspect. This paper discusses the challenges associated with transitioning traditionally discipline-siloed projects to multidisciplinary projects using VIP as the catalyst. Said another way, we describe the ongoing lessons learned of changing the mindset of students (and faculty) from ``you're electrical engineering, I'm mechanical engineering'' to ``we're engineering''.

In Fall 2015, the VIP Program at the University of Hawai`i consisted of six VIP teams: three composed primarily of EE students, one composed of ME students, and two with a mix of engineering students. The latter two teams are used as case studies to test our theories for incorporating multidisciplinary VIP teams into existing curricula. A desired outcome of this investigation will be elucidating a best-practices approach for VIP teams across disciplines including electrical, computer, mechanical, and civil engineering. This includes how to initiate formation of such groups, how to handle curriculum challenges between the programs, and how to handle the needs of the students within this educational program. Ultimately, we hope to develop learning in a multidisciplinary design environment that also fulfills the requirements of a degree in engineering, to the benefit of all the students involved, regardless of major.


K. J. Cho, S. K. Clemens, S. Saepoo, K. J. Sarabia, S. S. Yamada, G. B. Zhang, M. M. Moorefield, R. C. Gough, A. T. Ohta, and W. A. Shiroma, “Vertically Integrated Research in Reconfigurable Liquid-Metal RF Devices,” presented at the USNC/URSI 2015 National Radio Science Meeting, Boulder, CO, paper C1-10, Jan. 2016.  
Jambor, Eric J., and Thomas H. Bradley. "Project Management and Implementation in EcoCAR 3." ASME 2015 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2015.

The EcoCAR 3 competition is the latest iteration of the Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions sponsored by General Motors (GM) and the Department of Energy (DOE). The competition involves 16 universities from the US and Canada and requires the teams to design, develop, and implement a hybrid Chevrolet Camaro from the platform of GM’s choosing. The Colorado State University (CSU) team is a unique participant in this competition because it implements the program as a subset of the Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering senior capstone courses. The advantages of this arrangement are that EcoCAR 3 can leverage course deliverables to achieve EcoCAR 3 objectives, and that students can receive credit for their efforts in support of the EcoCAR 3 program. The challenges with this approach center around having two sets of deliverables (competition and academic) on overlapping timelines with shared resources. These challenges must be resolved through project management activities to successfully meet all of the deadlines and requirements of each program.


Froyd, Jeff and Lagoudas, Magdalini, "Multidisciplinary Vertically Integrated Teams Working on Grand Challenges," 2015 ASEE Conference & Exposition, Seattle, WA, June 14-17, 2015

Calls for changes in the attributes that characterize engineering graduates have become common in reports on engineering education in the last twenty years or so. To help realize these changes, we have developed a new approach for engaging engineering undergraduates in projects associated with grand challenges inengineering as outlined by National Academy of Engineering, World Health, and others. The program was created to develop knowledge and skills for engineering design, lifelong learning, multidisciplinary teamwork, effective communication, applying engineering fundamentals to problem solving, and appreciating influences of engineering on people. Undergraduate student teams collaboratively address multidisciplinary research topics associated with grand challenges in engineering. Students participate in the program through teams of ten or more students representing at least three majors and several levels (first-year to seniors). Each team is mentored by one or more faculty members and a graduate student. Started as a small pilot program within a large engineering college in 2012, more than four hundred students have participated in the last three years, earning course credit for one or more semesters. Survey data show students see value in the program in several areas that were the intent of the program design. These areas include learning for a lifetime, understanding design, functioning on a multidisciplinary team, and understanding societal, cultural, and economic influences of engineering. More than 90% of survey responders report that they “strongly agree / agree” that in this course they have taken opportunities to expand their knowledge, skills, and abilities beyond just completing required assignments. More than 50% of survey responders rated their growth in understanding what engineering can contribute to the society “a great deal”, as a result of their involvement in the program. Based on the growth in student participation, continued interest from students and faculty members, the program has been expanded to include industry sponsored projects which are multidisciplinary and vertically integrated. This paper will describe program conception, implementation, and evaluation. The authors will present data on what students perceive as benefits, impact of the program on recruiting for graduate programs, and transferring this approach to industry-sponsored student team research projects.


Lagoudas, Magdalini, and Jeffrey E. Froyd. "AggiE-Challenge Program: A multidisciplinary, vertically integrated, project-based engineering program." QScience Proceedings (2015): 73.

The AggiE-Challenge, a multidisciplinary, project-based program, was created to develop student knowledge and skills for engineering design, lifelong learning, multidisciplinary teamwork, communications, ability to apply engineering fundamentals to problem solving, and appreciation for the impact of engineering on people. Distinctive features of the program include student engagement with a project associated with a grand challenge in engineering, undergraduate student teams with members from at least three engineering majors, active involvement by an engineering faculty member, and guidance by an engineering graduate mentor. Students receive course credit for their participation in AggiE-Challenge. Projects are designed for at least a full academic year to provide interested students in-depth opportunities to continue working on the same project for more than one semester. Faculty submit proposals to be considered for funding each year and selected proposals require faculty to recruit and mentor a student team with at least ten students and one graduate student who provides project management and technical support to the team. Since 2012, more than 100 engineering students have participated in the program each semester, with some continuing on the project for two semesters and a few for more than two semesters. This paper will focus on the program description, student demographics, impact on recruiting for graduate programs, and transferring this approach to industry-sponsored student team research projects.


Chipman, Gregory D., and Thomas F. Fuller. "Vertically Integrated Projects: Improving the Overall University Competition Experience." ASME 2015 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2015.
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.

E.J. Coyle, J.V. Krogmeier, R.T. Abler, A. Johnson, S. Marshall and B.E. Gilchrist, “The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program – Leveraging Faculty Research Interests to Transform Undergraduate STEM Education,” Proceedings of the Transforming Institutions: 21st Century Undergraduate STEM Education Conference, Indianapolis IN, Oct. 23-24, 2014.

Book Chapter adapted from article:

E.J. Coyle, J.V. Krogmeier, R.T. Abler, A. Johnson, S. Marshall and B.E. Gilchrist, “The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program: Leveraging Faculty Research Interests to Transform Undergraduate STEM Education,” Chapter in Transforming Institutions: Undergraduate STEM Education for the 21st Century, edited by G.C. Weaver, W.D. Burgess, A.L. Childress, and L. Slakey; Purdue University Press, West Lafayette, IN 2015; pp. 223-234.

The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program is an education program that operates in a research and development context.  Undergraduate students that join VIP teams earn academic credit for their participation in discovery/design/creative efforts that assist faculty and graduate students with research and development issues in their areas of technical expertise. The teams are:
  • multidisciplinary – drawing students from across campus;
  • vertically integrated – maintaining a mix of sophomores through PhD students each semester; and
  • long-term – each undergraduate student may participate in a project for up to three years.
The continuity, technical depth, and disciplinary breadth of these teams enable the completion of projects of significant benefit to  faculty members’ research programs.
We compare the implementations and success of VIP Programs at five different institutions by a variety of criteria, including: origin and type of implementation strategy; number of disciplines involved; type of institution; implementation in the curriculum; resources and support available; growth of the program; grading/assessment strategy and tools; relationship withother design programs; software tools for program administration; number of students and faculty involved; etc. While programmatic variations and support have a marked effect on the success of VIP at each institution, its implementation in the curriculum and the ease of scheduling and timetabling teams stand out as two of the most important issues for every VIP site. The common slow pace of curricular change and the variability of curricular implementations across disciplines and institutions, are two of the key issues being addressed by the VIP Consortium that has recently been formed. It will enable the development and sharing of ideas, processes, and software tools for improving, growing and evaluating VIP Programs at all Consortium sites. Its overall goal is systemic reform of STEM Education.
Ferguson, D. M., & Newstetter, W. C., & Fisher, E., & Gangopadhyay, P., & Cawthorne, J. E., & Condoor, S. S., & Coyle, E. J., & Wroblewski, D., & Huellstrunk, C. (2014, June), The Framework on Innovative Engineering  Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Leaders in industry and government call today for the development of innovative or entrepreneurial behavior and skills in engineers (innovative is defined in this paper as including commercial execution and/or entrepreneurial behavior). Defining the critical characteristics of an innovative engineer in the different stages of the innovation process (or the Framework for Innovative Engineering, or Framework) was the goal of a team of 14 engineers, entrepreneurs and engineering faculty who participated in two focus group discussions on how successful innovative engineers behave during the innovative process. The first focus group discussion was held in October 2012 during the NSF sponsored Epicenter retreat at Stanford’s Sierra Camp. The second focus group discussion was sponsored by the NCIIA and was held for two days in Atlanta, Georgia at Georgia Tech in June 2013 following the annual ASEE meeting, The research question discussed at those two meetings was: What are the most important characteristics (knowledge, skills or attributes) of an innovative engineer in discovering, developing and implementing and sustaining an improvement-in, or a new or novel, product, process or concept? The purpose of this paper is to document and share the processes used and the resulting definitions and identification of innovative engineering characteristics that were developed during those two Framework focus group discussions.


Bell, Irene and Johnston, Aidan and Woolmer, Cherie (2013) Vertically integrated projects (VIP) @ the University of Strathclyde : how to enhance the student and staff learning experience through VIP. In: 10th Enhancement Themes Conference, 2013-06-11 - 2013-06-13, Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The purpose of this paper is to outline and share with the wider academic community the experience of developing and implementing Vertically Integrated Projects at the University of Strathclyde during their pilot phase. In turn we consider the results of a preliminary evaluation, paying particular attention to the effects on the student learning experience, (and to a lesser extent the academic staff), and illustrate how those results and our own observations have been used to identify constraints in VIP development and expansion, in addition to those critical factors which have contributed to their success. We conclude with a reflective statement on "moving forward," in the hope that others will be inspired to follow suit


National Academy of Engineering. Infusing Real World Experiences into Engineering Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012

This report showcases 29 engineering programs at US colleges and universities that effectively incorporate real world experiences in their curriculum, and highlights best practices for schools seeking to create such programs. Best practices include incorporating multidisciplinary team-based projects into curricula to help students develop skills in decision making, leadership, written and oral communication, organization/time management, cultural awareness, and problem solving. The report identifies impediments to infusing real world experiences in engineering programs and suggests ideas for overcoming them. The most frequent obstacles cited are lack of funding and financial support, faculty workload concerns, and challenges encountered with partners. Case studies in the report compare anticipated versus actual program outcomes to demonstrate how each institution is improving the level of preparedness of its engineering students. The Real World Engineering Education committee received 95 nominations from accredited four-year undergraduate schools with engineering or engineering technology programs. Submissions were judged based on program creativity, innovation, attention to diversity (including geographic, institution, racial/ethnic, and gender), sustainability plan, assessment of student learning, level of real world experience, and anticipated versus actual outcomes.


N. Viljoen, “Managing for the Triple Bottom Line in Project-Based Learning," 42nd International Conference on Computers and Industrial Engineering, Cape Town, South Africa, July 16-18, 2012.

Project-based learning is a popular engineering education approach that involves at least three stakeholders–students, faculty and an external client. But more often than not, one or more of these parties have to compromise their goals in the interest of the learning experience. This discourages stakeholders and threatens the sustainability of project-based learning programs. This paper defines the objectives of the stakeholders that engage in project-based learning, defining the triple bottom line that a project-based learning experience should aim to fulfil if it wishes to be sustainable.

The iTransport team at the Georgia Institute of Technology is one of many Vertically Integrated Projects that seeks to implement meaningful technology applications for real life clients through a multidisciplinary, multi-ranked student group. The paper further presents a case study of the first four semesters of the iTransport team highlighting that expectation management, management of team dynamics and keeping the triple bottom line front-of-mind through good project management principles is essential to addressing the triple bottom line.


J. Melkers, A. Kiopa, R.T. Abler, E.J. Coyle, J.M. Ernst, J.V. Krogmeier, and A. Johnson, “The Social Web of Engineering Education: Knowledge Exchange in Integrated Project Teams," Proceedings of the 2012 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, San Antonio, TX, June 10-13, 2012.

Engineering education is evolving to become an environment of project-based learning, research assistantships, and other mechanisms that approximate the research and collaborative aspects of true-to-life processes. From this diverse set of learning environments, students are expected to not only gain technical skills, but also social and group skills relevant to the realities of collaborative work in engineering. This expectation is in turn underscored by ABET accreditation standards, which extend beyond simply technical skills to include the development and learning of professional skills. In this paper, we ask: From an instructional perspective, how can learning outcomes be better observed so that faculty can provide appropriate guidance and occasional control? What are the sources of this diversity of learning within student groups? How do the ways that engineering students interact in team network environments matter for the skills that they develop through this experience? Scholars working in the science of learning argue that peer-relations form a social context of knowledge creation that constitutes a foundation for the development of team-skills. In this paper, we show how peer relations develop, and subsequently provide knowledge and learning resources within multi-ranked student teams over time. The data in this paper are based on a multi-year evaluation of the NSF-funded Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program at two institutions. The VIP Program brings together graduate and undergraduate students to solve applied engineering problems. Results show different patterns of knowledge seeking and exchange behavior across student groups. These results show that technical knowledge sources are distinct from project management and related information needs. Most interestingly, results show that knowledge exchange does not maintain its hierarchy. Undergraduate students develop their own information communities within teams, including regarding technical information. These results have important implications for the management of teams that include a range of students and expertise.


R. Abler, E.J. Coyle, A. Kiopa, and J. Melkers, “Team-based Software/System Development in a Vertically Integrated, Project-Based Course," Proceedings of the 41'st Annual ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Rapid City, SD, Oct. 12-15, 2011.

We use per-student virtual machines to allow new students to configure servers, thus enabling them to develop an understanding of the complex eStadium system. The outcomes include: student learning as the per-student virtual machines progress into software development and production machines supporting the eStadium game-day environment; the teamwork and leadership skills that evolve as students progress from initial learning to leadership roles in the creation of sophisticated applications; guidelines for instructors mentoring students through the process of building and maintaining a working production system; and, parallels with best-practice software and system development in industry. The use of peer-evaluations and social-network studies enable us to determine how the students interact with and learn from each other across years (sophomores through seniors). This cross year, cross experience-level learning process is essential for maintaining the technical and team continuity of the project. It also prepares students in a very realistic way for the software-development process in industry.


M. Baxter, B. Byun, E.J. Coyle, T. Dang, T. Dwyer, I. Kim, C.-H. Lee, R. Llewallyn, and N. Sephus, “On Project-Based Learning through the Vertically Integrated Projects Program," Proceedings of the 41'st Annual ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Rapid City, SD, Oct. 12-15, 2011.

Georgia Tech's Colleges of Engineering and Computing initiated the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) program in January 2009. Undergraduate students that join VIP teams earn academic credit for participating in design efforts that assist faculty and graduate students with research and development issues in their technical areas. The teams are: multidisciplinary - drawing students from around the university; vertically-integrated - maintaining a mix of sophomores through PhD students each semester; and long-term - each undergraduate student may participate in a project for up to six semesters. We describe the Video and Image Annotation VIP (VIA-VIP) project, which provides undergraduates unique opportunities to learn and apply state-of-the-art video-mining algorithms by processing a large archive of football videos recorded from GT football games. Their results are documented. Based on their feedback we believe the VIA-VIP course is on track to meet the needs of undergraduates in areas they don't usually see in the traditional undergraduate classroom.


R. Abler, J.V. Krogmeier, A. Ault, J. Melkers, T. Clegg, and E.J. Coyle, “Enabling and Evaluating Collaboration of Distributed Teams with High Definition Collaboration Systems,” Proceedings of the 2010 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Louisville, KY, June 20-23, 2010.

The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) program creates and supports large-scale, long-term, vertically-integrated teams that pursue design projects embedded in the research efforts of faculty and their graduate students. The undergraduates on these teams earn academic credit for their participation in the projects and benefit from long-term mentorship by the faculty, graduate students, and more experienced undergraduates on their team. In this paper, we report on a unique opportunity for VIP teams at Purdue and Georgia Tech to collaborate on a common VIP project called eStadium. The goal of this project is research, design and deployment of applications related to the real-time delivery of multimedia content over wireless networks to fans' mobile devices in a stadium during football games. To help the teams collaborate to achieve this goal, we have deployed High-Definition Distributed Collaboration (HDDC) systems at Purdue and Georgia Tech. They support two-way, high-definition video links and shared computer applications that together significantly enhance the teams’ collaboration on the project. The VIP Program benefits from a multi-methodological and longitudinal evaluation of progress toward goals and VIP outcomes. The evaluation blends rich interview-based qualitative data with a detailed social network analysis of student-level collaborative interaction and outcomes. The approach draws from studies of scientific collaboration, student learning outcomes, and social network analysis. This paper presents baseline evaluation data on early learning outcomes, student expectations, and the structure and resources of the student VIP networks. The lessons learned from this initial round of assessments will be used to improve both VIP and the collaborative system.


E.J. Coyle, J.P. Allebach, and J. Garton Krueger, “The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program in ECE at Purdue: Fully Integrating Undergraduate Education and Graduate Research,” Proceedings of the 2006 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Chicago, IL, June 18-21, 2006.

The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program is an engineering education program that operates in a research and development context. Undergraduate students that join VIP teams earn academic credit for their participation in design efforts that assist faculty and graduate students with research and development issues in their areas of technical expertise. The teams are: multidisciplinary – drawing students from across engineering; vertically-integrated – maintaining a mix of sophomores through PhD students each semester; and long-term – each undergraduate student may participate in a project for up to seven semesters and each graduate student may participate for the duration of their graduate career. The continuity, technical depth, and disciplinary breadth of these teams enable the completion of projects of significant benefit to faculty members’ research programs.