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Dismissing a bad lab partner from university


Well-Known Member
Hello! As many of you may recall or not, I'm an electronic engineering student, I'm a very "strict" or at least I try to be responsable with my work even if I may not understand WTH is about.

For years I've been struggling with lab/project parters, lack of interest from them, lack of "good" work or them not being able (or probably don't care) to apply the most basic documentation techniques. I may not the brightest mind right now but I've always feel confused and frustrated because of how randomly my partners work.

In every laboratory (since 1st semester), professors tell us to bring a notebook as log, where we write everything important, calculations, objectives, goals, etc. I've tried to do it correctly even when my partners don't do it.

Anyway, this semester I'm working in a digital design laboratory, my class is around 6 people, probably because the stories about our professor are like...well, horrific. In the first project he gave us a long talk/scold because even when the project worked as intended, our design was faarrr from electronic bases. There was no documentation or plans (blueprints). As he scolded us and explained us how to do it right I was speechless because every design step he talked about is the path I've always wanted to implement, the one I always thought a good engineer should do.

And well, we come to this 2nd project. Every one has been dealing with problems and last week no one (including me) came with previous designs or ideas. The professor scolded us again, he apparently has worked (or still does) with big companies like Intel, Boston Scientific (medical electronic devices), etc. as designer and employeer, and gaves us a warning that the way we're doing things is not the way work is done in the street (real life companies), I felt ashamed again. Well, my lab partner didn't go to class that day and again he came 1h late the next class.

During the last week scolded my prof asked me about where my partner was, I answered him that my partner told me he was going to come to class (but he didn't showed), anyway the prof just told me "In the streets (real life companies) that kind of people get fired from work maybe you should dismiss him". I got shocked when he told me that, 5% of me was like "I may have to do it, I would like to work harder but at least I wouldn't have to deal with non-responsible partner", the other 95% of me was like "I know this guy since my 2nd year in university, I can't just dismiss him, even if he's been kind of lazy.

On the other hand, I did all the work on the 1st project report, I've been working on reserarch so far and I'm the only one who's been like putting pressure on whatsapp asking about the work. He really doesn't ask me or say anything on the phone or other.

Anyway, I feel like I should dismiss him as recommended or at least be more strict with this guy (even when on friday I scolded him because of he being late). We talked and decided to work all the weekend on the project the best we could, I searched about some things we have to implement, and re-draw some early designs we (shold I say I?) did on friday with help from the professor as my partner don't arrived. I sent him a message like 2h ago and after 1h of waiting he told me he he hadn't worked much on in, I told him I re-draw the designs and even when I sent him tha previous designs yesterday he asked me If I still had those drawings.

Should I dismmiss him? What do you think?
Have had one or two lab partners like that Jorg over years at uni. Although it never occurred to me that I had the right to dismiss them. As that would have helped. Several times I did all the work and somehow the partner didn't show up unless it was to put their name on the research and final projects.
It seems as if there have to be people as lab partners who don't keep up their end of the work. Normally though they were the exception, as most partners I had did exactly their own part of the assignment.
Sometimes there was a trade-off, for example one student would attend the lectures (which in this case were not compulsory), write concise notes and copy them for their partner who did the lab work. So we split it up, I worked in the lab, and my partner attended the lectures.
Those sorts of partnerships can work if they're organized together, so perhaps some sort of compromise can be reached. Using the strengths of both individuals.
I can't tell you how to do this, as you're the one who works with this person. But maybe making it clear to your partner that this is his last chance and that you won't do the work
for him would be helpful. So an ultimatum perhaps.
I don't get it. Why is your professor punishing you for what your partner is doing? Clearly, your professor must see that it not your fault. Or is it some kind of team accountability thing. If so? Then I would get out of the teamwork environment if you can. Remember that aspies don't work very well, if at all, in a team environment. So if I were you. I'd get out of that team environment ASAP before you get flunked out of class. Ask your professor( if he's not an @$$hole.) if you can get an assignment that doesn't require you to work with a partner.
Talk to him, as a warning that if he does not shape up, you are going to let him go, because quite frankly, he is causing you trouble, that shouldn't be caused.

It seems that your professor recognises a huge potential in you and the reason the other students find him harsh, is because they are lazy idiots!

I like the sound of your professor, because in deed, in the real world, there is harshness, so what better way than teach before you get there, so you are in good standing.
I feel like the ultimatum is a good option, as is trying to see if there's a way to balance the work differently between you & your partner. However, he doesn't seem to feel like investing as much into the class as you are, so splitting some of the work between the 2 of you may imply that you will have to rely on your trust that his work ethic and quality will suddenly equal yours (not going to lie, I think that kind of transformation is unlikely).
There's no academic benefit in letting someone drag you down, and it might come back to bite you in the butt years later. That being said, there is a social benefit in handling the situation as smoothly as possible, hence the need to have a frank and open discussion with your lab partner; you can even tell him that you feel you owe him those explanations in the name of your longstanding friendship, maybe that will lessen the blow a bit. But you do need a serious talk with your partner, and action will be need to be taken, either on your end or his.

However, that conflict is a great opportunity to demonstrate additional qualities, such as leadership: either you do manage to motivate your partner, in which case you will also need to take the helm and lead your team - and that will say a lot about your capacities to motivate a team-, or you will have to dismiss him, and that will say a lot about your ability to make a decision, even an unpleasant one. But it's still a learning experience that you can benefit from.

Lastly, I hope you saw from how it went that you can trust your skills, as you seem to be a natural in that class. Capitalize on that, don't doubt yourself, and take the lead!

(My choice would go towards working solo, but it's a good thing to keep on trying, sometimes there are positive surprises in a new team. I hope it's not one of those classes with a peer-review system, those are awful)
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Just politely tell the guy you work better alone, your two schedules don't seem to be lining up anyways(since you are there and he isn't) wish him luck and get to work. May be really bad advice since I haven't had to have a lab partner since high-school and we certainly couldn't just dismiss them if it didn't work. Mostly it was a disaster but once I had a great partner willing doing do all the actual dissecting so I didn't have to touch the cold, formaldehyded things.
Don't think I'd dismiss anyone but if you can't work together anymore it might be best to see if you can work with someone else.
Thanks for the answers.

Well, I may give him another chance but first I'll have to be a little more "agressive" on the leadership and work planning. Today we were cited by the professor at 9am to give him the project advance we should have presented on Friday. Although yesterday I told him I was going to be at the lab at 7:30am to work on the project and him telling me he was going to be there as well, he didn't arrived until 9am, the time the professor told us to be at his office.

I arrived 20min before and tryied to talk with the professor and as always he's like shocked in the way the department and students have become, even current teachers are a disaster, he told me, because several of those teachers were his students years ago. I agreed and after some words about the struggle with my partner he told me to talk to him first and then if nothing changes I could ask him to work alone.

On todays meeting the professor seemed a little easier than past classes. I don't wanna seem like cocky or not humble but I guess my worries and the form I presented the designs today gave us a little room for work. I tried to present the designs in the right format and applying things I learn way back in a technical drawing course, like blueprint design and format, something none of the other people have done, even when is a very basic skill.

After I gave him the blueprints and my notebook log he told me "that's the way people should work! I don't understant why they fail to bring me works like these"

Anyway, I have to get to work, I have to present him another advence on Friday and luckily this wednesday is an off day in my country.
Steal a piece of your friends clothing. Get a Ken doll, and dress it up in that. Then burn it to ashes with a bunsen burner while mumbling something scary sounding. It probably won't help anything, but you will feel better. If your partners female just substitute Barbie for Ken.

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