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Teamwork is an important part of the engineering process, but it has its strengths and weaknesses. In order to optimize team effectiveness, we can use computational platforms that mimic team behavior.

Cognition-Based Computational Tools for Engineering the Teams of the Future
Presented by Chris McComb, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Noon–1 p.m.
Santan (SANTN) 220, Polytechnic campus [map]
Watch this free seminar via Adobe Connect


Teams are ubiquitous in engineering and design because of the de facto assumption that they are better at solving problems than individuals. However, Chris McComb’s research challenges this fundamental assumption, showing that there are predictable cases for which collaboration is a sub-optimal approach. This talk will explore how teams function and how team effectiveness can be optimized through computational platforms that mimic human and team behavior. The talk will begin by developing a stochastic, agent-based computational model for accurately simulating the behavior of engineering design teams, and then show how this model can be used to pursue the optimal design of those teams based on the properties of the problem being solved. Some immediate implications for designing group assignment in academic courses will be identified. The talk will conclude with a roadmap for designing the teams of the future through enhanced collaboration with intelligent computational agents.

About the speaker

Chris McComb is a postdoctoral research associate at Carnegie Mellon University. He attended California State University-Fresno and received dual bachelor’s degrees in civil and mechanical engineering (2012). He later attended Carnegie Mellon University as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and obtained his master’s (2014) and doctorate (2016) in mechanical engineering.

His primary research focuses on team-based design and engineering methodologies, but other projects have included investigations in social choice theory, numerical optimization, design for the developing world, and STEM education. McComb is also an instructor in the Integrated Innovation Institute, where he teaches courses in product design and conceptualization, with specific emphasis on emerging technologies and societal challenges.


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