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Cross College Courses: Creating A Modern Day Tower Of Babel Learning Experience

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Engineering / Education Collaborations

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.347.1 - 8.347.7



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Paper Authors

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Joel Weinstein

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

Session 3531

Cross College Courses: Creating a Modern Day Tower of Babel Learning Experience

Joel Weinstein, Vincent Butler, John Friar, Eric Clark, Anthony Gabrielson, Michael Lake, Jonathan Nierenburg & Justin Noel

Northeastern University

When students from accounting, business and engineering technology are combined in a project-based software engineering course, the stage is set for creating a modern day Tower of Babel. The students are exposed to a totally unfamiliar problem: an insurance company is expanding and relocating its claims adjustment office. The company needs to link the central office and the new office located across the street which will allow claims adjusters to update and submit claims information—including digital photographs—into a central repository. The result is a project in which each student must learn a foreign technology, learn to work as a team, learn how to deal with the other disciplines, develop a working business plan and deliver a working prototype to solve the problem. The results are impressive. The team figured out how to speak one another’s languages and produced an actual prototype demonstrating the synergistic combination of backgrounds and educational experiences that were taxed into creating a remarkable solution in a short period of time.

By completing the project, engineering students learned about time management and business issues. Business majors learned about the uncertainty of software development and finance majors learned about both.

This paper discuss one of the projects from this software engineering course. There were multiple projects in the course, however this paper will discuss one of the most successful—probably because none of the participants had any prior experience with the business or technologies involved. The paper will focus on the problems faced by the team members and the real skills that had to be acquired to complete the project. The course in which the project was introduced is being used as a template to bring more non- technology students into a program where all participants benefit from learning how to use their skills synergistically to solve actual problems even before they graduate.


Software engineering courses can be fairly dry and mechanical. Yet it is still important that students learn the fundamentals of software development. Activities in the course described in this paper combined a flavor of entrepreneurial business with conventional software engineering practices. To be successful, students needed to learn how to

Weinstein, J. (2003, June), Cross College Courses: Creating A Modern Day Tower Of Babel Learning Experience Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11488

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