June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
23.476.1 - 23.476.10
Embedding communication in an interdisciplinary project-based upper-level engineering design courseIt is not surprising that students working on open-ended design projects in multidisciplinaryteams must communicate effectively in a wide range of contexts, to a number of differentaudiences. However, clear communication is more than a means to an end when students arelearning design. Our experience working with junior and senior students in a two-quarter project-based design course taught by teams of engineering and communication faculty suggests thatattention paid to learning better professional communication contributes directly to students’mastery and understanding of the design process. Because students are required to articulate theirideas so often and so early, they perceive gaps in their own reasoning and design work that theymust then address. When teams must communicate, critique, and then rework their own ideas, itleads to stronger, better thought-out designs.Because our students work in multidisciplinary teams on projects not tied to a single department,all of them must communicate with teammates from different majors, with their facultysupervisors, with industry contacts, and with clients. We find that the constant need for cross-disciplinary engagement creates frequent opportunities to coach students in better professionalcommunication, and that doing so opens up further opportunities to coach design.Our paper will describe these opportunities and the assignments we have crafted to takeadvantage of them. We will discuss our understanding of the relationships betweencommunication and design, and the ways in which our students’ work on specificcommunication assignments feeds directly into their design work. We will also discuss the rolesplayed by different internal and external audiences during the course, and their importance tostudents’ learning. We conclude that not only does better communication lead to better design,but that time spent coaching students to become better communicators also helps them developas designers and engineers.
Anderson, J. C., & Gatchell, D. W., & Shwom, B., & Benjamin, S., & Lake, J. A. (2013, June), Embedding communication in an interdisciplinary project-based upper-level engineering design course Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19490
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