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Improving Effectiveness of Interdisciplinary Design Project: Lessons Learnt

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Capstone Manufacturing and Design

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.714.1 - 23.714.14



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Paper Authors


Priya A. Manohar Robert Morris University

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Dr. Priyadarshan Manohar is an Associate Professor of Engineering at Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh, Pa. He has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering (1998) and master's degree in Computer Science (1999) from University of Wollongong, Australia and holds a bachelor of Engineering (Metallurgical Engineering) degree from College of Engineering, Pune India (1985). He has worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh (2001 – 2003) and BHP Institute for Steel Processing and Products, Australia (1998 – 2001). Dr. Manohar held the position of Chief Materials Scientist at Modern Industries, Pittsburgh (2003 – 2004) and Assistant Manager (Metallurgy Group), Engineering Research Center, Telco, India (1985 – 1993). He has published over 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals and conferences including a 2007 Best Paper Award by the Manufacturing Division of American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), three review papers and three book chapters. He has participated in numerous national and international conferences. He is a member of ASM International, TMS, ACerS, AIST, ASEE, IMEA, and a registered Chartered Professional Engineer. Dr. Manohar’s research interests include mathematical and computer modeling of materials behavior, thermomechanical processing of steels and other metallic materials, microstructural characterization, advanced manufacturing and structure – property relationships. He has conducted a number of technical failure investigations, consulted on various materials-related problems, and acted as an expert witness in the Court of Law.

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Cathleen Jones Robert Morris University

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Associate Professor of Marketing Dr. Cathleen Jones's areas of specialization include Marketing Research, Social Media for Marketing, and International Marketing.
Dr. Jones holds a Doctor of Science in Information Systems and Communication. Her field project is titled "Exploring the Factors Affecting Food Choice at Restaurants with Special Emphasis on the Roles Played by Menus, Health Information, and Health Icons."

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Improving Effectiveness of Interdisciplinary Design Project: Lessons LearntIn the spring of 2006, a junior year level Product and Tool Design course wasdelivered concurrently with appropriate complementing courses fromManufacturing Engineering, Media Arts and Marketing departments. This initialeffort of developing and delivering interdisciplinary course has been quitesuccessful and the course has been offered continuously for the past seven yearswith a record number of students enrolled in this course in the Spring 2012 term.The success of the course is largely attributed to the continuous improvementefforts undertaken by the faculty involved based on the lessons learnt and ananalysis of student feedback surveys. This paper outlines the hurdles, bottlenecksencountered in the initial phases of course development and the solutions foundand implemented later on to address the issues that cropped up.Firstly, the course content of engineering and marketing courses weresubstantially synchronized so that the students acquired complementing skills towork on their interdisciplinary design project. Secondly, the course teaching timeschedules were adjusted to make sure students were able to hold face-to-face jointmeetings to work together on their projects. Thirdly, the issues related to theownership of the project and the roles to be played by the students were clearlydefined and explained to the students. Lastly, the final choice of the design whichthe engineering teams would work further to manufacture a prototype wasdetermined by a panel of external marketing professionals to remove any internalteam bias and ensure that the decision making process was more objective.The quality and complexity of student projects has been increasing steadily andstudents’ satisfaction has also been increasing continuously over the past sevenyears. The paper will present results of the student surveys, ABET outcomesassessment and student performance in the course along with several examples ofinterdisciplinary student projects.

Manohar, P. A., & Jones, C. (2013, June), Improving Effectiveness of Interdisciplinary Design Project: Lessons Learnt Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19728

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