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From Interdisciplinary Education to Effective Global Engineers

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Programs

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Gang Zheng University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute

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Dr. Gang Zheng currently is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education of the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute. He is also a faculty member of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has been working with the Joint Institute since 2009, leading advancement in various aspects of the institute. He has led the initial ABET accreditation for both engineering programs of the institute. Previously, Dr. Zheng was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Gannon University in the US. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in 2005. His research interests include embedded systems, rapid prototyping with FPGA, biometrics, and engineering education.

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Horst Hohberger University of Michigan - Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute

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Dr. Horst Hohberger is an Associate Teaching Professor for Mathematics at the UM-SJTU Joint Institute (JI) and also serves as the Faculty Advisor for International Programs. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Potsdam, Germany in 2006. His research interests include semiclassical asymptotics, scattering theory and Maslov operator theory, as well as academic integrity in international engineering education.

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Chengbin Ma University of Michigan–Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute

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Professor Chengbin Ma received the B.S. degree in industrial automation from East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai, China, in 1997, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, in 2001 and 2004, respectively. From 2004 to 2006, he was an R&D Researcher with the Servo Motor Laboratory, FANUC Limited, Japan. Between 2006 and 2008, he was a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, University of California, Davis, USA. He joined the University of Michigan–Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (UM-SJTU Joint Institute), Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China, in 2008, and currently an Associate Professor of electrical and computer engineering. His research interests include energy management, megahertz wireless power transfer, dynamics and motion control, and wide applications in electronic devices, electric vehicles, microgrids, smart grids, etc.

Dr. Ma is an IEEE senior member. He serves as Delegate of Energy Cluster, Chair of Energy Storage Technical Committee and Chair of Shanghai Chapter, IEEE Industrial Electronics Society. He is an Associated Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics. He and his supervised students won many teaching and research awards at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, such as Koguan Top Ten Best Teacher Award in 2017 and Koguan Top Ten Research Group Award in 2014. He also received Research Excellence Award from AirFuel Alliance, USA, in 2019 (email:; lab:

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Pradeep Ray University of Michigan Joint Institute, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

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Prof Pradeep Ray is the Director of the Centre For Entrepreneurship (CFE) at the University of Michigan -Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (UM-SJTU JI), China. He designed the Minor in Entrepreneurship program at the UM-SJTU JI, that started in 2017. This program involves a number of practicum courses in collaboration with the industry in China. He has been awarded Shanghai 1000-Telent Distinguished Professor status (2017). The CFE has launched a major initiative called the Technology Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development (TESD), the defining philosophy for several entrepreneurship projects for social development in the Belt and Road region. He has been the founder Director (2013-2016) of the WHO Collaborating Centre on eHealth at the University of New South Wales (UNSW)-Australia where he is an Honorary Professor in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine (SPHCM).

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This paper presents thoughts, practices, and outcomes of interdisciplinary engineering education within an engineering institute. The institute is an equal-partner collaboration between a US university and a university in China. The strategic characteristic of the institute is its global approach to structural and operational development that leads to a long-term vision of interdisciplinarity. The institute has multiple engineering programs without clear departmental structure from the beginning of its establishment. All courses in mathematics, basic sciences, as well as liberal arts are offered in house by the non-engineering faculty of the institute. These have built interdisciplinary education in the nature of the institute. The Interactions between faculty in different disciplines greatly promote an interdisciplinary environment and nourish students’ interests in multidisciplinary studies.

Interdisciplinary education at the institute is reflected in the curricula of the engineering majors and non-engineering minors, creative degree programs, and extra-curricular activities in the institute. The engineering curricula include a first-year introduction to engineering course that allows students to have a taste of engineering in an interesting subject area before claiming a major; the capstone design projects allow the students to join each other again as different majors to form multidisciplinary teams and work on industry sponsored projects; the Global Multidisciplinary Design Project (GMDP) extends the boundary of capstone design projects to involve international collaborations; liberal arts courses broaden students’ horizon beyond engineering fields and help students to think about engineering problems with different perspectives. The institute offers minors in non-engineering fields, such as entrepreneurship, data science, and computer science, to provide concentrated studies in the non-engineering fields.

Besides the traditional degree programs on undergraduate and graduate levels, the institute offers Dual-Bachelor’s degree program combining the study in different engineering/non-engineering disciplines. The Global Degree Pathway (GDP) program allows the undergraduate engineering students to seek further development in and beyond engineering, with a more direct, simple and accelerated way. The GDP program offers a Bachelor’s degree in engineering at the institute and a Master’s degree in an engineering or non-engineering discipline including management, statistics, user experience, big data, sustainability at one of our partner universities.

The institute houses two centers, Centers for Entrepreneurship (CFE) and Center for Interdisciplinary Education (CIE), to facilitate extra-curricular activities in non-engineering fields and create an atmosphere of interdisciplinary education.

The paper will present data as outcomes of the effort in interdisciplinary education. Some new initiatives such as the GDP program and CIE are work in progress. Thoughts and experiences will also be shared.

Zheng, G., & Hohberger, H., & Ma, C., & Ray, P. (2019, June), From Interdisciplinary Education to Effective Global Engineers Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32865

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