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An Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Course Bridging The Gaps Between Engineering, Science And The Arts

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering I

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.166.1 - 15.166.15



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Paper Authors

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Yunfeng Wang The College of New Jersey

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Christopher Ault The College of New Jersey

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Teresa Nakra The College of New Jersey

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Andrea Salgian The College of New Jersey

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Meredith Stone Independent Evaluator

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

An Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Course Bridging the Gaps between Engineering, Science, and the Arts


This paper presents an innovative interdisciplinary undergraduate course that simultaneously engages the disciplines of engineering, science and arts. This course is intended to motivate students to reach across the boundaries of their own disciplines and advance their critical thinking, creative problem-solving and computational thinking skills, while learning the relevant technical knowledge. The structure, objectives, assessment strategies, results, and student deliverables from the first course offering are the focus of this paper. These promising results provide a model with which to evaluate effective approaches for interdisciplinary higher education.

1. Introduction

Interdisciplinary education is becoming increasingly important in preparing undergraduate students to be able to participate in the emerging knowledge-based economy and meet complex social demands in the modern world1,2,3,4. It has grown at a progressively rapid rate in recent decades. More and more universities and federal funding agencies have set their initiatives in favor of and prioritized investment in interdisciplinary curricula and research activities5. The development of the course presented in this paper has been motivated by this trend. This course has gained broad institutional support and is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) CreativeIT program.

Interdisciplinarity is acknowledged as an effective educational approach to engage students in critical thinking and synthesis beyond the capacity of a single discipline or major, and cultivate creative ideas, solutions and activities1,2,6. As these skills are crucial to engineering students, engineering educators particularly endorse this approach, and recognize interdisciplinarity as a critical component of modern engineering education7. Although a variety of interdisciplinary courses for engineering curricula have been developed7,8,9, there still remains a lack of courses that involve disciplines that are fundamentally different from engineering such as arts, humanities, and social science. The course presented in this paper is an innovative example of a course that simultaneously engages the disciplines of engineering, science and arts.

conducting system as a vehicle to bring together students majoring in Mechanical Engineering (ME), Computer Science (CS), Interactive Multimedia (IMM) and Music in the same class. It is a project-oriented course that fosters critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and computational thinking skills through an open-ended team project requiring the synthesis of knowledge in all four core disciplines. Students work collaboratively to design and develop innovative robotic and graphical conducting systems that can direct an orchestra. Topics taught include robotics, visual music, abstract animation, computer vision, algorithms, data processing, music conducting, and project management.

Wang, Y., & Ault, C., & Nakra, T., & Salgian, A., & Stone, M. (2010, June), An Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Course Bridging The Gaps Between Engineering, Science And The Arts Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15823

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