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An Interdisciplinary Approach To Complex Product Design Projects

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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

Design Projects

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.225.1 - 12.225.9



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Paper Authors

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John Farris Grand Valley State University

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Paul Lane Grand Valley State University

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

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Complex Product Design Projects

Abstract In 2004, the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley State University launched the Product Design and Manufacturing emphasis. The new program was created in response to the local industry demand for engineers educated to take a product from conception to production. To meet this challenge, the program was designed with an emphasis on real world, innovative, multi-disciplinary product design and build projects. More than developing products, the program desires to develop business opportunities that will lead to local economic development. To implement these projects, the following challenges had to be overcome: 1. A stream of innovative product ideas had to be generated and sustained. 2. Since the products are innovative, the program had to be able to deal with the partial success of a product prototype or concept. 3. The interdisciplinary nature of product development had to be replicated in the functionally divided university setting which contained significant opposition to classes that integrated different disciplines. This paper describes a system designed to overcome these obstacles. The development of a complicated consumer product, a coffee maker that can roast, grind, and brew coffee, is used as an example to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of the system.

Introduction Successful products are developed by interdisciplinary teams of professionals shepherding the product concept from identifying customer needs to first production. Industry has found that this holistic approach shortens development time, reduces costs, and delivers a product that more closely meets customer expectations. The interdisciplinary teams can quickly deal with the complex interplay between customer needs, product cost and expected quality. With a few notable exceptions, academia has been slow to adopt a similar approach.1,2

Academics have traditionally been highly educated specialists with very little incentive to reach across disciplinary boundaries. There are several significant

Farris, J., & Lane, P. (2007, June), An Interdisciplinary Approach To Complex Product Design Projects Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2123

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