As an engineering manager, you will be faced with challenges that occur now as issues, and challenges that could occur in the future as risks. As the project leader, you must implement a systematic approach or methodology to solve those issues and risks and effectively communicate their solutions. In the field, these methodologies are documented within the project management plan (PMP).
In the second final project, you will once again assume the role of an engineering manager of a project—the development of a thermally stable lithium battery. This case scenario was also used in EMA 600; however, in the version for this course, the case has progressed three months into the future, and there are new challenges to address. Armed with broader knowledge and more advanced skills, you must apply the communication methods and problem-solving strategies discussed in this course to systematically solve the new and more complex engineering management problems facing the team. The results of your inquiry and your recommendations for moving forward will be compiled into an engineering project assessment for your senior management.
The final project represents an authentic demonstration of competency because it utilizes an engineering project case scenario that requires you to assume the role of manager. The project is divided into two milestones, which will be submitted at various points throughout the course to scaffold learning and ensure quality final submissions. These milestones will be submitted in Modules Six and Seven. The final project will be submitted in Module Nine.
Refer to the scenario document as you complete this project. Your engineering project assessment should address the following critical elements:
I. Introduction: Summarize the key details of the provided scenario, including sufficient information for your audience to understand your assessment and proposal.
II. Project Issues A. Complete an Ishikawa chart for each of the three issues, identifying at least five root causes for each issue in the scenario, which details possible program or management causes for the new program failures. Specifically, you must identify the most likely causes based on a thorough review of all relevant categories. Defend your analysis with specific evidence. Remember to submit an Ishikawa diagram for each of the three issues as part of your response.
B. Referring to your analysis of the program failure causes, propose specific corrective actions to effectively solve each issue and prevent the issue from reoccurring. Defend each recommendation by citing specific principles discussed in the course.
A. Explain the importance of project communication as it applies to the successful outcome of a project. Defend your response with specific principles discussed in the course.
B. Explain the communication approach that you would employ to drive project success. Illustrate your approach with a communication matrix. Specifically, include how you would communicate project status to include cost, schedule, requirements, issues (root causes and project risks), and their mitigation strategies.
C. Finally, explain your strategies for preventing potential communication breakdowns. How will you keep the internal and external communications flowing effectively moving forward? For example, what sort of feedback mechanisms might you employ? Defend your recommendations by citing specific principles discussed in the course.
Guidelines for Submission: Your engineering project assessment should be 5 pages (including your Ishikawa diagrams, and risk matrix and table) use double spacing, 12-pt. Times New Roman font, one-inch margins, and citations in APA format.
VALID: Short Circuited Battery
As you have learned in this course, an engineering project can be thought of as a complex system with many interrelated parts. In your role as an engineering manager, you must be aware of the typical problems that can disrupt that system. Sometimes you may be brought into an existing project—perhaps because of a restructuring in the organizational chart or because that project has gone off-track and is in need of new leadership. When that happens, it is important to thoroughly assess the project dynamics before implementing new management strategies.
In this assessment, you will assume the role of a newly hired engineering manager for a company called VALID, and you have been brought in to diagnose and fix the problems plaguing an important project for —namely, to develop safer, thermally-stable lithium-ion batteries. Your task is to assess the root cause issues and identify possible strategies for addressing each to present to the executive leadership team. The main areas of dysfunction include methodological or “handoff” failures between the different teams; interpersonal and communication breakdowns across the technical divide; and, potential ethical dilemmas in balancing engineering integrity with business needs. You must apply your knowledge gained throughout this course in developing a new manager case report aimed at transforming the project into a well-functioning system.
You have accepted a position as engineering manager for the lithium-ion battery development team (LiBDT) of VALID, Inc. (VA=powered lithium-ion devices), a highly respected engineering firm with an illustrious history of bringing cutting-edge energy storage to the marketplace.
You accept the management position fully aware that in the recent past several news stories have surfaced about problems with lithium-ion batteries. The first thing you do as a new manager is some research into the problem. You find the following related news stories.
Chemical & Engineering News: Periodic graphics: Why Li-Ion batteries catch fire
CBS New Report: Are Lithium-Ion Batteries Safe? (2:11)
Joint Center for Energy Storage Research: Energy Storage Has the Potential to Change the Way We Live
Electropaedia: Lithium Battery Failures
Although VALID has not been implicated in any of the stories, its market share has suffered significant drops, nonetheless, and the bad press for lithium-ion batteries is affecting sales. This situation coupled with a growing discord within the development team and the recent internal testing failure of the new lithium-ion battery line, led VALID’s executive leadership team to dismiss the former manager, Peter Q. Robin, and downsize the group by 20%. The company was upfront with you when you interviewed for the position to replace Mr. Robin as manager of the lithium-ion battery development division. They acknowledged conflict within the engineering team as well as the decline in company’s market share.
It is understood by the executive leadership team that you do not have engineering expertise. You have been hired for your management leadership skills. You job is to thoroughly assess the project dynamics before implementing new management strategies by assessing the root cause issues and identifying possible strategies for addressing each. You are charged with rebuilding a cohesive and collaborative LiBDT team to release a new safe, high-energy battery. VALID believes that LiBDT needs to lead the industry with safer, thermally-stable lithium-ion batteries if the company is to recover a solid market share.
To begin, the executive leadership team has asked you for a project analysis in the form of a “case report,” analyzing the details of project methodology, the project team, and ethical concerns. They would also like your opinion on the overall health of the project and your general recommendations.
Problem Statement: In the recent VALID prototype failure there was a mismatch between the residual heat generated and the battery’s capacity to dissipate that heat. Consequently, the battery exceeded the established safe temperature limits. The prototype development followed the standard engineering design process, using industry standard software tools to simulate the conditions, the battery response, and to determine the design of the thermal packaging. Testing followed industry standards as well, but in the final tests the battery temperature was significantly different from the predicted simulation values. Simultaneously, the marketing division had already sent out pre-release advertisements enthusiastically promising a new, more powerful battery for all your toys and tools.
Project Structure: The lithium-ion battery development team is comprised of two sub-groups. The electrical and chemical engineering group works on developing higher electron density packing factors. The mechanical engineers and materials scientists address the electric anode/cathode isolating materials and the heat dissipation enclosure designs.
Challenges: It is unclear at this time what led to the discord within the team, but it is interfering with productive development and has become a critical factor in meeting the delivery schedules promised by the marketing division. The last prototype failed internal testing due to overheating, and the previous manager was trying to get the product released to satisfy the marketing department’s schedule and promises made to clients. Your role as manager is to understand the root causes for the disturbances and bring the team together. An important part of this is to build cooperation between the two primary teams and relieve the pressures felt by the other divisions’ expectations.
Notes: As you flip through the files you see some notes left by the previous project manager, Peter Q. Robin:
· Ethical issues?
· Product testing? Internal inspections? Product release? Constraints? Limits? Reliability? Safety?
· Communication w/marketing? Communication w/stakeholders? Communication w/engineering team? How to restore trust? Why should stakeholders trust us after the battery problems our competitors had?