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Integrating Curricula For Senior Design Classes Across Multiple Disciplines

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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 Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.785.1 - 10.785.15



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Paper Authors

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Meredith Aronson

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Reid Bailey

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

Integrating Curricula for Senior Design Classes Across Multiple Disciplines Reid Bailey and Meredith Aronson College of Engineering University of Arizona

ABSTRACT In an effort to improve the student experience and increase the efficiency with which faculty resources are used, the process of integrating engineering design curricula was initiated five years ago at the University of Arizona. Much progress has been made, but the fact that more work remains is indicative of the organizational dynamics at a large university. While many national and university-level factors encouraged the integration of redundant, disciplinary courses into multidisciplinary experiences, strong local opposition to change was encountered. Results and data from the integration process highlight the local nature of change through surges in enrollment in certain courses resulting from changes in departmental policies. Additionally, results indicate that progress towards an integrated design experience has reduced the net workload on faculty without compromising a high quality student experience.

INTRODUCTION While engineering as a discipline embodies the principle of efficiency, engineering organizations (in particular large engineering schools) function differently, suffering the bureaucratic load of social and institutional systems. Engineering colleges may be construed as inefficient in realizing organizational change and optimizing offerings. In simple terms, the educational value proposition of an engineering college might read “provide the highest quality educational experience to the students for the least cost”, with the cost being correlated to faculty workload and institutional resources, for example. Inefficiency in realizing such a proposition may be tied to bureaucratic structures that sub-optimize and resist organizational change. Our interest is in the process of bringing about organizational change at a college level, understanding the tension between the departmental or local forces, the college-wide, and the overarching system forces. In particular, this paper focuses on experiences with integrating disciplinary senior design courses into a college-wide multidisciplinary design program at the University of Arizona. Such institutional change has many forces either pulling it further along or slowing its progress. These forces occur at multiple levels: the external system, the institution, the college, and the department. For instance, the requirement from the Accreditation Board for Educational Testing (ABET) that students “must have an ability to function on multi- disciplinary teams” is an external force that encourages the integration of disciplinary design courses1. At the college level, a push to reduce redundant courses offered within multiple departments can serve to pull the integration of design courses further along. At the departmental level, individuals willing to and in positions to champion the integration of design courses are crucial in effecting change. Resistance to change can occur within these same

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

Aronson, M., & Bailey, R. (2005, June), Integrating Curricula For Senior Design Classes Across Multiple Disciplines Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14725

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