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Creating Value in Project-based, Multidisciplinary Design Courses

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Design Methodologies 2

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Klaus Castrén Aalto University

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Klaus Castrén has a MScBA degree in International Design Business Management and works at Aalto University as an Innovation Ecosystem Specialist in Aalto Design Factory, where he promotes collaboration between students, academia, industry, and the society. His interest are focused on creating meaningful learning experiences for learners in all stages of life as well as on creating organizational change towards better learning environments.

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Sine Celik Aalto University

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Sine Celik is a postdoctoral researcher at Aalto University Design Factory. Currently working on innovation networks, creative ecosystems and community dynamics in relation to these. Holds a PhD in Industrial Design Engineering from TU Delft. Sine is also an architect.

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Tua A. Björklund Aalto University Design Factory

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Tua Björklund is a professor of practice at Aalto University, and one of the co-founders of the Design Factory, a multidisciplinary co-creation platform. She is particularly interested in how to support translating ideas into action in engineering design in organisations, whether it be in the context of teaching, product design or creating new strategy in technology companies.

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Niina Nurmi Aalto University, School of Business

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Niina Nurmi is a professor of international design business management and the director of IDBM master's program, Aalto University's multidisciplinary flagship program. Her research focuses on work design, leadership, creative collaboration and wellbeing in virtual work.

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University-industry collaboration plays an important role in creating engineering programs that are attractive to students, lead to competent, employable engineers and the local impact of universities. However, academic and industrial realms can operate with different vocabularies, assumptions and routines. This can lead to mismatches in expectations as well as missed opportunities for fruitful collaboration.

This paper explores the perceived value of participating as an industry-sponsor to a multidisciplinary engineering design capstone course. Four industry partners were interviewed in the beginning, middle and end of two project-based courses (and one industry partner once) to track what value they expected from the course and what value did they perceive to be delivered. The thirteen in-depth interviews averaged 50 minutes, were audio-recorded and transcribed for analysis.

Based on the qualitative analysis, the motivation to take part as a sponsor in these project-based courses initially centered around new innovative products. However, there was a continuum of expectations ranging from product concepts to ready-to-ship solutions, which often was only surfaced later on during the course. Furthermore, the drivers behind the expected value of these outcomes could be divided into novelty, concreteness and validation. It also became apparent that the value to the sponsoring company at large and the value to the liaison diverged. At the end of the project, the sponsor liaisons personally highlighted the value of the course collaboration as a way of driving change in the practices, portfolios or the industry of their organization.

The different types of value identified in this paper can help to form vocabulary for joint understanding in project-based innovation courses. Being able to articulate different types of value on both the university and industry side in negotiating and running these courses can help to find better matches in collaboration. As a result, all parties are better set up for successful university-industry collaboration.

Castrén, K., & Celik, S., & Björklund, T. A., & Nurmi, N. (2020, June), Creating Value in Project-based, Multidisciplinary Design Courses Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34347

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