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Collaborative Laboratory For Multidisciplinary Study Case Study Spring 2009

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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

Design Projects in Mechanical Engineering II

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.285.1 - 15.285.11



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Paper Authors

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Brian Vuksanovich Youngstown State University

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Darrell Wallace Youngstown State University

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


For the past couple of years, a disconcerting and repeated criticism by the engineering industry of recent college engineering graduates is the inability to creatively solve problems coupled with ineffective communication with workers in other disciplines or trades. Additionally, a lack of discipline has also been noted. Typically, these criticisms are voiced in meetings of college industrial advisory boards, industry partners and alumni established in their discipline. In an effort to address this, the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) Department of Youngstown State University initiated a joint pedagogical experiment with the Department of Fine and Performing Arts (F&PA) at Youngstown State University. The goal of the experiment was two-fold – to expose the engineer to an ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking environment and to establish a means where effective communication with non-technical personnel was required. The experiment was jointly developed between the departments so that the students from both departments would work towards their own pedagogical objectives. The goal of this paper is to detail investments and benefits of this type of collaborative experience for the student as well as the requirements for implementation, assessment and success of the work.

Assessment of the student’s progress throughout the project and the student’s scholastic improvement overall were tracked by both MET and F&PA faculty. The results of the experiment have provided enough confidence to conduct further experiments which are being planned for the Spring semester of 2010.

I. Introduction

The United States has long prided itself on the innovative capabilities of its industrial base. Henry Ford’s assembly line concept not only put the Ford Motor Company ahead of its competition when it was introduced, it also helped the United States out-produce the world during WWII. Innovation put us on the moon and fueled the computer and internet boom of the 1990’s. Studies going back as far as 1959 have identified engineering creativity as a vital contributor to industry competitiveness and the national welfare. 1 A preponderance of literature published in the past five years points to a lack of soft skills, including creative innovation, as factors in declining global competitiveness. 2,3,4,5 At the root of this problem is a deeply entrenched educational paradigm that does not encourage creative thinkers.

This innovation was possible because there were people that not only understood engineering principles; they also knew how to apply them in ways that satisfied a human need. These engineers were well-versed in their discipline and also understood the need itself. They could communicate effectively, listening to other’s needs and could speak to the users and colleagues to effectively and efficiently build an product that was accurately targeted to the actual need, not a perceived one.

II. Background

Vuksanovich, B., & Wallace, D. (2010, June), Collaborative Laboratory For Multidisciplinary Study Case Study Spring 2009 Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16893

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