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Assessment of Communication, Teamwork, and Engineering Motivation in Interdisciplinary Projects Implemented in an Introduction to Engineering Course

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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

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 3: Diversity and Multicultural Influences in the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.259.1 - 26.259.23



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Paper Authors


Haolin Zhu Arizona State University

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Haolin Zhu is a faculty lecturer in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. She received her Ph.D. in Solid Mechanics from Cornell University. Currently she focuses on the freshmen engineering program, as well as designing and teaching mechanical engineering courses.

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Ryan J Meuth Arizona State University

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Dr. Ryan Meuth is a Freshmen Engineering Lecturer in the Fulton Schools of Engineering, and also teaches courses in Computer Engineering for the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering at Arizona State University

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ASEE 2015 Seattle Abstract Assessment of Communication, Teamwork, and Engineering Motivation in Inter-Disciplinary Projects Implemented in an Introduction to Engineering CourseInter-disciplinary project teams are a fact of engineering careers. Inter-disciplinary thought andaction are required to solve many of today’s technological and social challenges. Governmentreports such as Educating the Engineer of 2020 [1], Facilitating the Interdisciplinary Research [2],and Rising Above the Gathering Storm [3], have also advocated that we prepare engineers that canwork in interdisciplinary environments. While more and more institutions have incorporatedmultidisciplinary projects in the freshman introductory courses, many students are not exposed tointer-disciplinary team environments until their senior design project.This paper will discuss the integration of inter-disciplinary teamwork into the Introduction toEngineering course at a large, public, research institution. More specifically, the implementationof a large real-world hands-on design project will be discussed, which consists of multidisciplinaryteams from two sections of the course offered in Fall 2014 collaborating on designing, building,and testing autonomous waste sorters. Teams from one section of 38 mechanical, aerospace,electrical, and chemical engineering students are paired with those of the other section with 43computer science, informatics, software engineering, computer systems engineering, industrialengineering, and engineering management students. While the teams from each section focus ondifferent aspects of the design, inter-disciplinary collaboration and system integration is requiredfor a successful final product.The impact of this experience on students’ knowledge and self-efficacy of the engineering designprocess, their technical communication skills, and teamwork will be measured. A surveyinstrument adapted from APPLES (academic pathways of people learning engineering)[4] and thestudy of measuring engineering design self-efficacy [5] was administered before the start of thehands-on design project and again at the end of the semester after the completion of the designproject to over 80 students in both sections of the course. The purpose of the survey is to betterunderstand the value of the inter-disciplinary teams in the introduction to engineering classroom.Results from the survey as well as students’ quotes from course evaluations will be used todetermine the impact of this experience and will be presented.[1] National Academy of Engineering, 2005. Educating the engineer of 2020: adapting engineering education to the new century. Washington, DC:National Academies Press.[2] Committee on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, 2005. Facilitating interdisciplinary research. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.[3] Committee on Science Engineering and Public Policy, 2006. Rising above the gathering storm: energizing and employing America for a brightereconomic future. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.[4] Sheppard, S., S. Gilmartin, H. L. Chen, K. Donaldson, G. Lichtenstein, E. Özgür, M. Lande, and G. Toye., 2010. Exploring the engineeringstudent experience: findings from the academic pathways of people learning engineering survey (APPLES) (TR-10-01). Technical Report CAEE-TR-10-01. Seattle, WA: Center for theAdvancement for Engineering Education, September.[5] Carberry, A.R., Lee, H., and Ohland, M.W., 2010. Measuring engineering design self-efficacy. Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 99,pp.71-79.

Zhu, H., & Meuth, R. J. (2015, June), Assessment of Communication, Teamwork, and Engineering Motivation in Interdisciplinary Projects Implemented in an Introduction to Engineering Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23598

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