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Five Curiculum Tools To Enhance Interdisciplinary Teamwork

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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

Multidisciplinary Engineering by Design II

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.633.1 - 10.633.12



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Paper Authors

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Paul Leiffer

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

Five Curriculum Tools to Enhance Interdisciplinary Teamwork

Paul R. Leiffer, R. William Graff, and Roger V. Gonzalez

LeTourneau University


An ability to function well in a multidisciplinary team has become an expectation of modern industry and a major goal for engineering students. Since LeTourneau University offers a general engineering degree with five concentrations, multi-disciplinary design projects naturally arise at all levels of the curriculum. Current capstone projects involve student teams from up to three engineering disciplines, plus computer science, design technology, and marketing. Obstacles to multi-disciplinary teamwork, including disciplinary competition, communication problems, scheduling difficulties, and minor “turf wars” can limit the effectiveness of such teams. A series of curriculum “tools” have been initiated to insure that students will have a measure of success in project teamwork. These methods include (1) multiple and varied opportunities for projects in teams, (2) early involvement in senior project teams, (3) specific training for teamwork, (4) coursework in and application of project management techniques, and (5) the use of multiple items of feedback to determine the contribution of each team member.


Interdisciplinary engineering teams have become a standard expectation in industry and a requirement in education. The following paper presents a number of ideas for enhancing teamwork in the engineering curriculum.

Most engineering graduates employed in industry will work in collaborative teams. Current projects, particularly those in aerospace, defense, and vehicle design, are of such magnitude that the involvement of multiple disciplines becomes essential. Separation of disciplines essentially disappears in much of modern industry.1 Some of the advantages of project teams include: • Teams provide the most efficient use of workers’ skills. • Employees are able to pool knowledge and ideas to arrive at better and more creative problem solutions.2 • Teamwork based on coordinated tasks and peer leadership permits removal of layers of hierarchy.3 • Teams benefit from the combination of people with diverse characteristics, skills, knowledge, and capabilities.4 • “Effective teaming and other group performance disciplines will spell the difference between organizations that succeed and those that fail.”5

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Leiffer, P. (2005, June), Five Curiculum Tools To Enhance Interdisciplinary Teamwork Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15252

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