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Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration and Innovation for Engineering and Business Student Teams

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


David G. Alexander Ph.D. California State University - Chico

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Dr. Alexander’s research interests and areas of expertise are in teaching pedagogy, capstone design, renewable energy systems, thermal sciences, vehicle system modeling and simulation, heat transfer, new product development, entrepreneurship, and technology transfer. He is PI and adviser of the Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition 2016. He is also working on an undergraduate research project modeling solar cells using a thermodynamics approach and analyzing changes in efficiency with cell temperature. Additional work includes, developing a closed loop throttle controlled model of a purely ultracapacitor hybrid electric vehicle. This model was used to select components and control strategies for a class 8 commercial hybrid concept vehicle as well as a small hybrid sedan. Vehicle road testing was performed and validated the system model.

Dr. Alexander has 10 years of industry work experience most of which as CEO of IVUS Energy Innovations – a technology start-up company that he and three partners formed around unique fast changing technology. As CEO, he raised over $2 million in equity financing, secured a worldwide license agreement, and managed the commercialization and launch of the industry’s first 90-second rechargeable flashlight. In addition he is co-inventor on four U.S. patents and has presented numerous times at advanced energy technology conferences in the areas of business and technology development.

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A student team was formed consisting of majors from across campus including entrepreneurship, management, marketing, and electrical, mechanical and mechatronic engineering to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition 2016. Objectives of the competition are to deliver a market-driven technology application, develop an innovative business plan, and create a deployment strategy. Two faculty advisers, a mechanical engineering assistant professor from the College of Engineering and an entrepreneurship assistant professor from the College of Business designed and delivered content to help the student members effectively collaborate and innovate across their disciplines and form a cohesive and high functioning team. In addition to being members of the cross-disciplinary team, business and engineering students were concurrently enrolled in a business management market analysis course and a senior capstone engineering course, respectively. Since students were getting exposure to technical content through courses and membership in the program was voluntary, short activities in the form of workshops were delivered to the team during weekly meetings to develop and enhance skills in communications, project management, business development, brainstorming, and ideation. In addition, engineering students collaborated with business students in a social entrepreneurship class to provide technical expertise during market research and analysis, and students also presented to one another on topics related their particular disciplines. Data were collected using a questionnaire at the beginning of the two-semester project to determine levels of experience and attitudes toward teamwork. Additionally, students submitted two self-assessments during the first semester where they were asked to rank their level of engagement in various behaviors related to team interactions and explain the basis for their ranking. Finally, feedback was collected at the end of the first semester to determine if attitudes about teamwork changed and if so, how. This paper describes the workshops and student reflections on the process as well as students’ overall assessment of working in a cross-disciplinary team environment.

Alexander, D. G. (2016, June), Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration and Innovation for Engineering and Business Student Teams Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26607

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