Asee peer logo

An Interdisciplinary Junior Level Design Experience In Engineering

Download Paper |


1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.80.1 - 4.80.8

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

James Pearson

Download Paper |

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

Session 2323

An Interdisciplinary Junior Level Team Design Experience in Engineering

Dr. James V. Pearson Division of Engineering and Technology John Brown University


The course (EN3222, Design Laboratory, two semester hours, spring semester) described in this paper was initiated in the spring of 1992 at John Brown University to provide students with design-cycle experience and interdisciplinary team activities. Typically the teams of this course are formed with three students of engineering and two students of graphic design. Each team forms a company which is then asked to respond to a Request For Proposal from “investors” for a consumer product design appropriate to one of five consumer markets. The engineers on the team work on the technical design, computer drawings, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, reliability studies, economic analysis, testing; and consulted on the case design and technical manual content. The graphic designers work on the company identity, advertising layouts, marketing plan, web-page design, case design, manual design and packaging. Five design seminars are presented by the faculty team. Four design reviews are conducted with each team during the semester. The final presentation by the team before the “ investors” includes a demonstration of the working prototype and the presentation of all documentation and marketing elements. Team interaction in the course has been effective though sometimes frustrating to the student. Student response to the course has been positive. The course has provided a good preparation for the full-year senior design project. The paper also discusses creativity issues, the use of computer tools, the application of reliability factors, student evaluation techniques, and some of the product designs.

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” Plutarch

I. Introduction

The engineering faculty at John Brown University began discussing a junior-level design laboratory in 1990. Students were spending extensive amounts of creative time in the computer room but not in the electrical or mechanical laboratories. One factor was that the labs were not open for them to do this. Another factor was that the standard lab experiments were not open-ended enough to make the students think through the project. It was necessary for the faculty to design some lab experiences that would stimulate real thought and draw students to the lab to confirm their ideas. It was also necessary for the labs to be open when students wanted to work there.

Pearson, J. (1999, June), An Interdisciplinary Junior Level Design Experience In Engineering Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1999 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015