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Development Of A Multidisciplinary Engineering Design Laboratory At The University Of Notre Dame

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.157.1 - 1.157.7



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Paper Authors

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Jay Brockman

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Stephen Batill

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John Renaud

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Jeffrey Kantor

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David Kirkner

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Peter Koggel

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Robert Stevenson

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


Development of a Multidisciplinary Engineering Design Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame 2 3 Jay Brockrnanl, Stephen Bati112, John Renaud , Jeffrey Kantor , 4 5 David Kirkner , Peter Koggel, Robert Stevenson

University of Notre Dame

Introduction/Philosophy As technology has evolved, the primary challenges in engineering design have evolved from creating well- defined components to producing complex, interdependent systems. Furthermore, the design of such systems typically requires the combined talents of a team of engineers, often from different disciplines. Ironically, as design challenges have shifted from components to systems, engineering curricula in universities have become increasingly specialized. Whereas formerly engineering students in all disciplines could be expected to have a common foundation of courses such as mechanics, electronics, and thermodynamics, today’s students are required to specialize in a major in the sophomore or even freshman year, with little opportunity to take courses outside of their field. While one disadvantage of this trend is that students have less of an understanding of the physical principles and techniques used in other disciplines, a more serious issue is that students are less famil- iar with the interfaces between disciplines. This leaves students unprepared to confront the most difficult prob- lems faced by practicing systems designers: how to simultaneously meet all the constraints imposed by different concerns, and how to effectively make trade-offs between concerns to optimize system performance. To address this issue, we have developed a multidisciplinary engineering design laboratory course for senior-level undergraduates. The main goal of this laboratory is introduce both faculty and students to interdis- ciplinary group design projects. Projects were implemented using Lego blocks and mechanical components, along with a variety of motors and sensors, that are controlled from personal computers. The course was ini- tially offered in the fall semester of 1995, involving seven faculty and twenty-one students. In this paper, we will describe the organization of this course and discuss our experience and observations with the initial course offering.

Course Development and Organization Goals The primary goal of this laboratory course was to explore the educational benefits of having groups of fac- ulty and students work together on interdisciplinary design projects. A secondary goal was to try to develop a set of interdisciplinary laboratory exercises appropriate for possible future use in an introductory engineering course. In order to achieve these goals, two strategic issues were raised regarding project development and imple- mentation:

1. Department of Computer Science and Engineering 2. Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering 3. Department of ChemicaJ Engineering 4. Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences 5. Department of Electrical Engineering

$!&”-’ 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings } ‘.,+,~yy’:

Brockman, J., & Batill, S., & Renaud, J., & Kantor, J., & Kirkner, D., & Koggel, P., & Stevenson, R. (1996, June), Development Of A Multidisciplinary Engineering Design Laboratory At The University Of Notre Dame Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5984

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