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Cross College Collaboration Of Engineering With Industrial Design

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Potpourri Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.373.1 - 10.373.9

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Paper Authors

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Bryan Laffitte

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David Ollis

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Cross-College Collaboration of Engineering and Industrial Design Brian Laffitte, David F. Ollis, and Rebecca Brent

Industrial Design, NCSU, Raleigh, NC/ Chemical Engineering, NCSU, Raleigh, NC / Education Design, Inc., Cary, NC


We report the piloting and initial assessment of a novel cross-college collaboration in which exploration of modern consumer and household devices in an engineering ”device dissection” laboratory is utilized to enhance student learning objectives and achievement in a junior-senior Studio course in Industrial Design (ID). The electric guitar and the compact disc (CD) player were chosen as first round devices. The ID students first explored these devices in teams of 4-5, discussed operation and dissection with senior engineering lab assistants, then returned to their ID studio to execute individual design responses to the initial device challenges. An unexpected dividend was the carryover to the ID Studio and inclusion there of the engineering lab assistants as part of the ideation and prototyping which is central to Industrial Design. Our initial experience was evaluated through interviews with ID students, engineering lab assistants, and design and engineering faculty. Interview results indicated two central positive outcomes: (1) device use and dissection in the engineering lab assisted the ID students in developing stronger technical comprehension and better design proposals, and (2) inclusion of engineering lab assistants in both the device lab and the industrial design studio facilitated achievement of desired, multidisciplinary design proposals. Thus, the addition of a “device dissection” engineering lab experience to an existing Industrial Design studio course demonstrated an enhancement in student performance. Plans for next year’s collaboration are presented.


Ten years ago, the College of Engineering created a Product and Process Engineering Laboratory, within which engineering students could deepen their understanding, and satisfy their curiosity, by taking apart and re-assembling devices in their everyday lives. Early examples were light-driven devices included bar code scanners, CD players, FAX machines, and video cameras. Subsequent disciplinary expansions included electric and acoustic guitars, internal combustion engines, and cell phones. All participants in this elective engineering lab, from undergraduate enrollees, junior-senior lab assistants, and graduate student authors of individual device chapters indicated election of the lab because it offered opportunity for understanding via device use, dissection and assembly, experiences which they had found woefully lacking in their engineering education. Student understanding was deepened through the reading of a technical device description, carrying out use and assembly exercises, solving of several

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright ©2005 American Society for Engineering Education

Laffitte, B., & Ollis, D. (2005, June), Cross College Collaboration Of Engineering With Industrial Design Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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