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Customers On Campus – Building Successful Collaboration Between Physics And Engineering Through Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research

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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

Undergraduate Research & New Directions

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.387.1 - 10.387.7



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Paper Authors

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Martin Johnston

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Christopher Greene

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Jeff Jalkio

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

Session xxxx

Customers on Campus – Building Successful Collaboration between Physics and Engineering through Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research

Jeffrey A. Jalkio, School of Engineering Martin E Johnston, Department of Physics Christopher S. Greene, School of Engineering University of St. Thomas


The educational benefits of collaborative student – faculty research and real-world design projects in engineering are well known. In particular, engineering students benefit from the exercise of design skills and from working with non-engineering clients to define the technical requirements of their projects. In parallel, individuals from other disciplines can benefit from exposure to engineering problem solving techniques. In this paper the authors present the results of an ongoing effort to integrate the benefits of both student-faculty collaborations and real- world design by incorporating undergraduate engineering students into physics research projects.

Over the course of several years, engineering students at the University of St. Thomas have been incorporated into physics department research laboratories, working side by side with physics students and faculty. These students design, build and test instrumentation and other equipment used in all aspects of the physics research. The problems to be solved are technically challenging and valuable to the client. Students working on these projects receive guidance from both electrical engineering and physics faculty regarding real-world constraints and the implications of the student solutions. The engineering students gain design experience as well as experience working with non-engineering customers to define problem requirements and specifications. In addition to the resulting instrumentation, physics students and faculty gain insight into engineering problem solving techniques. The impact of the experience goes beyond the immediate participants; finding its way back into the classroom through better-informed instruction in both physics and engineering.

Traditional opportunities for students

Many educators have written on the advantages students gain from various forms of experiences in which they can practice the analytical and design skills learned in their engineering coursework, see for example Campbell1. A variety of mechanisms have been used to provide these experiences including cooperative faculty-student research projects, inter and intra campus student design competitions2, on-campus industry sponsored design projects3, internships and co-

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

Johnston, M., & Greene, C., & Jalkio, J. (2005, June), Customers On Campus – Building Successful Collaboration Between Physics And Engineering Through Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15515

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