June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Multidisciplinary Engineering and Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
24.763.1 - 24.763.18
Integrated 2D Design in the Curriculum: Effectiveness of Early Cross-Subject Engineering ChallengesAbstractMultidisciplinary engineering design is difficult to teach in the undergraduate curriculum,particularly in the early Freshman and Sophomore years, since the students have not enrolled in abreadth of subjects. Multidisciplinary projects are often left to latter years, thereby leaving thestudents with an incomplete picture of how course subject matters relate and fit in a larger viewof engineering and design. To address this, a novel approach to multi-disciplinary engineeringeducation was instituted in the Freshman and Sophomore years, where during a particular termall courses simultaneously attacked a common design problem. For one dedicated week, thecoursework was stopped and instead all instructors and students simultaneously worked on thedesign challenge problem engaging those courses’ subject matter alone. We call this the 2Ddesign challenge, where the design problem is multidisciplinary, but exclusively restricted to thedomains of the courses being taught.The 2D design challenge approach was highly effective at providing early learning of themultidisciplinary nature of design problems, including statistically significant impact on studentperceptions of their ability to solve multidisciplinary design problems. As an example, coursesin biology, thermodynamics, differential equations, and software with controls were brought intoa 2D design challenge problem of developing a perishable food delivery system composed ofunrefrigerated unmanned ground vehicles. Students designed insulated cartons for transport byUGVs provided for which they also had to develop the motion control and path planning. In self-efficacy assessments, a statistically significant increase was observed in students’ reportedability at solving multidisciplinary problems (p = 0.013) from before and after the challenge.Further, a statistically significant shift occurred in students reported ability to solve designproblems involving materials outside their discipline (p = 0.002). As a further check, one wouldnot expect students to change their perceived ability to solve design problems within theirdiscipline from the 2D experience since it lasts only 1 week, and indeed there was no change(p = 0.25 indicating no change).Recommendations for successful 2D multidisciplinary projects include that instructors establisha priori a chain of design project requirements linking the design activity associated with eachcourse. That is, the design problem should have co-dependent requirements from each disciplinethat cannot be independently determined in isolation. The biology requirement should not besolvable without thermodynamic and systems analysis, for example; all requirements should becoupled yet with design freedom to solve these coupled requirements such as insulationselections, layout, and scheduled delivery time design. This thereby allows for creativity anddependency in the solutions developed and yet allows the instructors to ensure multidisciplinarythinking.
Otto, K., & Camburn, B. A., & Wood, K. L., & Nannicini, G., & Bouffanais, R., & Kyoseva, E., & Yong, J. W. H., & Poletti, D., & Simpson, R. E., & Mathur, A. P. (2014, June), Integrated 2D Design in the Curriculum: Effectiveness of Early Cross-Subject Engineering Challenges Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20655
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