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The Integrated Project Experience

  • Hands On Work In Technology And Entrepreneurship
  • Emphasis On Commercial Success
  • Integration Of Technical And Management Knowledge
  • Application Of Independent Efforts And Team Work
  • Faculty Serves As Mentors/Consultants/Coaches
  • Evaluation By External Experts



Integrated Project Description (EMGT590)
The Integrated Project (EMGT590) is the capstone course in RHIT's MSEM degree. It is substantially different than other courses and this memo is intended to convey the general outline of the course to students. Most masters degree programs conclude with a thesis by the student. The Integrated Project both resembles and differs from this model as follows:

Like a thesis, each 590 course is unique to a particular student (or student team as discussed below). The students select their topic and define their project based on their interests, skills and available resources. Part of what the students must demonstrate to earn the degree is the initiative to select a topic, plan an appropriate balance of activities, and conduct those activities.

Like a thesis, there is no fixed class meeting, the faculty does not lecture or direct the activities, but instead act as advisors to the students. Most of the responsibility rests with the student to contact the faculty when they seek advice, feedback, or approval of specific items. This is "student centered learning" and it is expected that faculty will have considerable involvement, but the role is that of coach rather than a classroom lecturer.

Finding a workable combination of team members and topic sometimes requires searching on the part of the student. RHIT EM faculty can act as a conduit to help students be aware of teams that are forming. In general, students complete all of their coursework before beginning the 590 project. This provides them with the necessary background to do the 590 tasks. However, sometimes an appropriate project emerges before a student has completed all other courses and the decision, in consultation with RHIT faculty advisors, is made for a student to enroll in 590 and then complete the remaining course(s) later. Students are encouraged to choose 'hands-on' projects that are related to their employment (several past 590 projects have been new product development efforts or reengineering efforts at the students' employers). This type of project can involve disclosure issues, and for that reason, integrated projects are not published as a public document (traditional theses are published). As integrated projects tend to be less theoretical, they usually have a reduced emphasis on the literature review than a thesis. Still, it is recommended that students begin documenting references early in their project, as these are easier to accumulate along the way than to find later.

Thesis topics are normally focused in a single domain (e.g., "Exponentially weighted moving average control charts for poisson distributed data" ) whereas the Engineering Management integrated project requires an integration of all the major domains addressed in the coursework: technical, marketing, finance and organizational issues. The blend of these domains varies with each project and is determined for a specific project at the proposal stage. No more than 50% of a 590 project would focus on one of these domains. Common project types that blend these domains include: new product development, development of a business plan for a new business venture, re-engineering of existing organizational process, a technology assessment study.

Normally a thesis student writes a Proposal that outlines the intended project, cites the key references (indicating additional literature to be reviewed), and argues for the validity of the project ("sells the project idea") by indicating likely project results and the contribution the project will make. The Proposal is submitted to the faculty and each faculty member decides whether to commit to being an advisor to that student on the proposed project. Often there are several interactions in which students offer a draft proposal, faculty suggests changes, and students modify the proposal and resubmit, until the proposal is accepted. This approach is the academic version of good project planning and client (faculty) needs assessment. It helps the student develop focus, set achievable goals, and begin building relationships with faculty. (It's the "engagement" phase, and can be modified more easily than in the "marriage" phase. ;-))

Project proposals for the EMGT590 Project are typically 3 to 5 double spaced pages and include the typical project proposal information listed below. The Engineering Managament faculty strongly recommends that students prepare a draft proposal in the term prior to beginning the 590 project.

  • Working title, overview, and scope
  • Team member names and contact information (if applicable)
  • General work breakdown structure (outline format by quarter)
  • Preliminary bibliography
  • Committee composition (first reader – Project Chair; second reader, and third reader)