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Experience With Multidisciplinary Design Projects At The U.S. Military Academy

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Education by Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.593.1 - 9.593.8



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Paper Authors

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Bryan Goda

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Pete Hanlon

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Lisa Shay

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

Session Number: 2471

Experience with Multidisciplinary Design Projects at the US Military Academy

Peter D. Hanlon, Bryan S. Goda, and Lisa A. Shay Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY 10996 {peter.hanlon/bryan.goda/lisa.shay}

Abstract - The intent of Senior Design Capstone Projects at the US Military Academy is to provide cadets with a challenging engineering problem that requires them to integrate key concepts from several previous EE courses. Multidisciplinary projects add to that challenge because the students who participate in cross-disciplinary projects have to also learn the capabilities and limitations of other disciplines. While more challenging, a multidisciplinary project provides the students with a better perspective of real-world engineering projects. This paper addresses some of peculiarities associated with these multidisciplinary projects by describing the formation, monitoring, and evaluation of cross-disciplinary teams. Solutions to some of the common problems that are normally encountered such as scheduling, grading, resource allocation, and control of the group are discussed. Group dynamics and the unique results of what a cross-disciplinary team can produce are also discussed. The group’s faculty advisor must play a key leadership role to ensure that the group stays on track, interacts well within the group and amongst the other departments, and ensures steady progress is made towards project completion. A series of design reviews throughout the year gives the group waypoints to measure progress as well as practice presenting in front of an audience. Some unique features not normally found in a senior design course such as peer evaluations, guest lecturers, and project’s day have been implemented and will also be discussed. As illustrations of our findings and recommendations, this paper describes several group projects such as a digital controlled train with gantry crane, a project with EE, CS, and ME majors; Battlebots: a project with EE and ME majors; and the Autonomous Shadow: a project with ME, EE, and CS majors. Documenting this multidisciplinary process in preparation for the ABET evaluation visit is also discussed.

1. Introduction

In this paper we describe our experience with several multidisciplinary (electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science) senior design projects. We start by describing how the projects have grown from individual design, to single discipline group design, to multidisciplinary group design projects. Then we make some general observations about some of the issues that have to be addressed when undertaking these multidisciplinary projects including: selecting the design team members, project administration (schedule, grading criteria, and project resources), design reviews, the role of the faculty advisor, and documenting

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Goda, B., & Hanlon, P., & Shay, L. (2004, June), Experience With Multidisciplinary Design Projects At The U.S. Military Academy Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13898

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