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Engineering in the Humanities: Interdisciplinary Projects in the Arts and Engineering

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Approaches for Enhancing Non-technical Skills

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.630.1 - 26.630.20



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Paper Authors


Elizabeth Wuerffel Valparaiso University

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Liz Wuerffel is an interdisciplinary artist working in video, photography, and digital imagery. Wuerffel received her MFA from Columbia College Chicago in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media. Her work has been shown near and far, from Chicago’s Woman’s Made Gallery to Hannover’s konnektor – Forum für Künste and Java Arts in Phnom Penh. Wuerffel currently teaches digital media art at Valparaiso University and collaborates with the College of Engineering on interdisciplinary art and engineering projects. She also co-directs the Welcome Project (, a first-person story collection about identity and inclusion.

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Jeffrey Dale Will Valparaiso University

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Will completed his B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has been a full-time faculty member in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Valparaiso University since August of 2001. He teaches courses in senior design, computer architecture, digital signal processing, freshman topics, and circuits laboratories and is heavily involved in working with students in undergraduate research. Will is also a 2013 recipient of the Illinois-Indiana ASEE Section Outstanding Teacher Award.
Upon coming to Valparaiso University, Will established the Scientific Visualization Laboratory (SVL), a facility dedicated to the use of Virtual Reality (VR) for undergraduate education. Working exclusively with undergraduate students, Will developed VR hardware and software to be used in undergraduate STEM curricula. Under his direction, his students have developed over fourteen different software packages to be used in such educational fields as electromagnetics, vector calculus, statics, and materials science: all topics where students can benefit from a rich visual experience. Will currently advises twelve undergraduates in scientific visualization projects. Additionally, Will is an avid collaborator with colleagues outside the engineering discipline and has demonstrated visualization and virtual reality applications in psychology, foreign languages, photography, drawing, music, and library science. He is co-author of the textbook “Developing Virtual Reality Applications” and has published numerous pedagogical articles on the use of virtual reality for teaching. His contributions range from U.S. Patents to art exhibits.
Will is active in K-12 outreach efforts where his Virtual Reality system serves as a vehicle to interest students in STEM fields. He has given hundreds of demonstrations of the system to over 1200 visitors and works closely with local schools, especially those with underserved populations. He is active in partnering with the Valparaiso Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Chapter to mentor and provide visit days to middle-school girls. He has also worked with colleagues at Iowa State to develop the educational program “Boomtown,” with the goal of interesting middle-school girls in computer programming. After working with the SWE chapter closely for the past ten years, Will was named advisor for the chapter in the fall of 2013.
Will has been an active member of ASEE throughout his professional career, serving as an officer in his local section from 2002-2007 (Chair in 2005) and attending and publishing at national and sectional conferences.

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Engineering in the Humanities: Interdisciplinary Projects in the Arts and EngineeringA well-rounded education for engineers is often touted as a necessary and valuable aspect ofeducation, but achieving this goal is often difficult. As engineering projects are often technicallyfocused, applications in the humanities may be hard to find. In addition, the fragmented natureof collegiate departments often hinder collaboration by placing faculty in to silos of their owndiscipline.Over the past five years, the authors, electrical engineering and art faculty, have providedexperiences in design projects in art, music, dance, and theatre to mechanical, electrical, andcomputer engineering students. This paper presents the projects implemented by the researchersincluding three senior design projects involving aerial and underwater photography projects aswell as a the development of a motion capture laboratory. The latter has focused on motioncapture applications in the arts which include the motion analysis in music conducting, nonverbalexpression and character development through movement, skeletal modeling of dance, and four-dimensional animating drawing and painting.The paper presents the assessment of this effort, including the survey of the engineering studentsto gauge their increased interest in the humanities and their ability to communicate acrossdisciplines. In addition, the impact of the humanities students and faculty are assessed in relationto the effectiveness of the motion capture in their respective disciplines.

Wuerffel, E., & Will, J. D. (2015, June), Engineering in the Humanities: Interdisciplinary Projects in the Arts and Engineering Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23968

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