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Assessing Teaming Skills and Major Identity Through Collaborative Sophomore Design Projects Across Disciplines

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Novel Teaching Methods in a Multidisciplinary Context

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.245.1 - 26.245.11



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Paper Authors


Jennifer R. Amos University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Dr Amos joined the Bioengineering Department at the University of Illinois in 2009 and is currently a Sr Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate programs. She received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Texas Tech and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from University of South Carolina. She has developed and offered more than 5 courses since joining the faculty and has taken the lead roll in curriculum development for the department.

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Troy J. Vogel University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Dr. Troy J. Vogel is a lecturer in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He primarily teaches Chemical Process Design, a senior level course. In addition to formal teaching, Dr. Vogel acts as the advisor for the Illinois Chapter of AIChE and AIChE’s Chem-ECar Competition. Dr. Vogel also plays an active role in various summer camps fostering a desire to learn science and engineering in all of today’s youth.

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Princess Imoukhuede University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Dr. Princess Imoukhuede is an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She received her S.B. in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Biomedical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and she received her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the California Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Illinois, Dr. Imoukhuede completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research interests are at the interface of Systems Biology and Angiogenesis with applications to Breast Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease.

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Assessing teaming skills and major identity through collaborative sophomore design projects across disciplines.Engineers work in interdisciplinary teams. Our students hear this all the time from instructors,but how many times do they get to see it in action while in college? Collaboration and studentprojects than span multiple departments are often seen as too difficult to pursue due toadministrative, topical, or other logistics related barriers. This project demonstrates an approachat introducing true interdisciplinary design projects within a sophomore level materials andenergy balances courses in both Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering programs at a largepublic institution.Engineering curricula have been focused on integrating design in the freshman and senior yearsbut often fail to integrate projects into the sophomore and junior year courses. These years arecrucial (Borrego & Newswander, 2008). The study consists of one section of bioengineeringstudents paired with a section of chemical engineering students. Teams are made up of equalproportions of each major. The project consists of an exploration of energy balance in the bodyrevolving around economic resources available to meet nutritional needs. Bioengineeringstudents start the project earlier than the chemical engineering team and act as data gatherers andframe the nutritional/biology needs and absorption models. During this phase, students explorethe grocery store to gather nutritional content, plan a menu for a day with constraints of varyingbudgets, $5, $10, and unlimited budget, and must meet a nutritional caloric intake for anindividual in that budget constraint. Chemical engineering begin to collaborate and learn fromthe bioengineering teams and then take over for the next phase, optimization. The chemicalengineering teams have multiple design scenarios to apply the new knowledge and models suchas increasing caloric intake for nursing mothers, excluding food items for allergy, or dieting.Student must design and optimize a process for ideal caloric needs.Each program maintains student major identity while giving the opportunity to workinterdependently with students outside their major on a small design project. Preliminaryfindings show that each program of students genuinely brings different skills and emphases tothe project. We hypothesize that projects competed by students of the interdisciplinary teams willhave higher performance in interpreting data and working within real-world constraints, makerecommendations to include social and economic concerns, interact within a team, and have anappreciation for other engineering disciplines (Schaffer, Chen, et. al. 2012). Survey and focusgroup results combined with outcomes-based assessment are used to determine direct andindirect assessment of skills.Borrego, M. & Newswander, L.K (2008). Characteristics of Successful Cross-disciplinaryEngineering Education Collaborations. Journal of Engineering Education, 97(2), 123–134.Schaffer S. P., Chen X., Zhu X., Oakes W.C.(2012).Self-Efficacy for Cross-DisciplinaryLearning in Project-Based Teams. Journal of Engineering Education 101(1), 82–94.

Amos, J. R., & Vogel, T. J., & Imoukhuede, P. (2015, June), Assessing Teaming Skills and Major Identity Through Collaborative Sophomore Design Projects Across Disciplines Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23584

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