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Carnegie Mellon’s Multidisciplinary Engineering Design Projects Course Serves A Variety Of Students And Both Internal And External Project Sponsors

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.291.1 - 9.291.12

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Paper Authors

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John Wesner

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Cristina Amon

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

Session Number 3125

Carnegie Mellon’s Multidisciplinary Engineering Design Projects Course Serves a Variety of Students and Project Sponsors John W. Wesner, James H. Garrett, Jr., Eswaran Subrahmanian, Arthur W. Westerberg, Cristina H. Amon

Institute for Complex Engineered Systems, Carnegie Mellon University


The Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES) at Carnegie Mellon University, a continuation of the former NSF-funded Engineering Design Research Center (EDRC), sponsors several project-based engineering design courses that are open not only to Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering students, but also to the entire campus community.

The Engineering Design Projects Course is unique in that teams of upper class and graduate students from several academic areas, including humanities, business, and fine arts in addition to various engineering disciplines, work on design projects sponsored by industries, non-profits, government agencies, or organizations within the university. The intent is to give the participating students a hands-on, integrative, multidisciplinary experience in the important field of engineering design.

The success of this course is attested to by several project sponsors returning for repeated semesters with additional problems to be addressed by student teams, and by some students taking the course a second time, usually working on different projects. Students also indicate that discussions during job interviews have focused on this course experience. Not all student reactions are positive. While some students have enjoyed participating in well-functioning teams to achieve success on projects they found to be interesting, other students have felt that the minimally-structured independent course environment did not provide sufficient motivational support to keep them excited and focused. Some also appeared to be unready for the level of responsibility required to succeed in an empowered team environment, with a faculty team advisor acting in a purely coaching role.

This paper discusses the design of the course, the design process the students are encouraged to use, typical projects and their sponsors, how student teams are formed to maximize multidisciplinary composition, how student teams are matched with projects, how student work is evaluated and graded, and Liré, a locally-developed Knowledge Management tool used to collect and archive course design and process documentation.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright @ 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Wesner, J., & Amon, C. (2004, June), Carnegie Mellon’s Multidisciplinary Engineering Design Projects Course Serves A Variety Of Students And Both Internal And External Project Sponsors Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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