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A Multidisciplinary Design Education Approach For Supporting Engineering Product Innovation

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Design in the Classroom

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.70.1 - 12.70.8



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Paper Authors


Rainer Seidel The University of Auckland

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Rainer Seidel (Dipl.-Wirtsch.-Ing., Ind.Eng., PhD) works in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. His main research, teaching and consulting activities are in the areas of technology management and strategic business innovation in SMEs, productivity improvement in manufacturing, new product development, and engineering education. He is currently the Project Director of the multi-disciplinary R&D project ‘High Technology Design for Engineering Product Innovation’ funded by the New Zealand Government.

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Linda Haemmerle Plume Ltd.

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Linda Haemmerle graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Design, major in Product Design from UNITEC Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. She has designed furniture, lighting and consumer products (Bob Pen:†Highly Commende† Best Design Awards 2000, New Zealand, 1st place award IDRA 2001, USA) and is a director of design company Plume Ltd. in Auckland, New Zealand. Linda is currently the Project Manager of the New Zealand Government funded project†High Technology Design for Engineering Product Innovatio.

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Chris Chambers CPC Consulting Ltd.

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Chris Chambers (BEng(Hons)) runs his own consulting engineering design and development business. New Zealand and US clients use him for special projects that solve long standing problems or that establish new platform products. His expertise focuses on modularity, simplification and innovation that deliver key commercial benefits protected by patent. Chris' interest in cross-functional design management has propelled him to become a contributor to the ‘High Technology Design for Engineering Product Innovation’ project funded by the New Zealand Government.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Multi-disciplinary Design Education Approach for Supporting Engineering Product Innovation Abstract

Manufacturing success in today’s global business environment depends on a manufacturer’s ability to design and produce innovative products which are technologically sound and satisfy the customers’ functional requirements, but at the same time possess those attributes that create excitement and capture the imagination. Generating and maintaining a creative and synergistic design environment and culture to achieve this is challenging for Small and Medium manufacturing Enterprises (SMEs). Therefore it is particularly important for them that their engineering and design staff have sound backgrounds in engineering science and design, possess multidisciplinary skills and experience and are capable of playing an integrative role in a creative design-driven business environment. However, many manufacturing SMEs that produce technologically complex products have insufficient human resources and skills to cover the breadth of competencies needed. Opportunities for improvement are often limited or seen to be too expensive, such as enhancement of their in- house design capacity through external resources in the form of design services, tertiary institutions, or by cross-industry knowledge sharing.

This paper describes an innovative educational program, which is aimed at the development of talent pathways for engineering students that reflect the skill requirements of design driven manufacturers. Concurrently, a professional development framework for design practitioners from the industry is being established that caters to their specific training needs, reflects the requirements of professional bodies and industry training organizations, and is closely integrated with the academic curriculum. Based on this educational framework, a comprehensive design-training program is currently being developed and implemented: consisting of specific design courses, teaching modules, short courses on particular design related topics and industry-based training activities such as design internships, practice-based case studies and collaborative project work.

The first activities in the new program have been successfully introduced in the 2006 academic year. Amongst them are two teamwork and project-based design courses involving real industrial product development tasks. The courses were organized and delivered in cooperation with staff from business and creative arts faculties, local manufacturers, and external engineering and design professionals. Many positive comments were received from students coming from engineering, business and the creative arts faculties. As knowledge from the different areas was gained, students were able to appreciate different viewpoints from fellow students of different academic backgrounds. Plans for the 2007 academic year cover a multi-disciplinary, inter-faculty design course in each semester. Additionally, design internships for senior students have been organized to foster industry/academic collaboration, to expose students directly to design in a business environment, and to enhance the appreciation of academic design teachers of practical business requirements.


To compete in today’s competitive international marketplace, Small and Medium sized manufacturing Enterprises (SMEs) must have the capability to design and produce innovative products that both function and capture the imagination. For products involving significant technology or engineering development, design engineers and product designers must be


Seidel, R., & Haemmerle, L., & Chambers, C. (2007, June), A Multidisciplinary Design Education Approach For Supporting Engineering Product Innovation Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2358

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