June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Design in Engineering Education
11.806.1 - 11.806.10
Integration of Real-World Multidisciplinary Design Experiences into the Capstone Experience
Abstract As educators we must ask ourselves whether we are truly meeting the needs of today’s young people to become engineers. Are we showing students what it means to be an engineer and how engineers help people and contribute to society? Are our young engineers prepared to successfully integrate knowledge from diverse areas of the sciences, mathematics, arts and humanities, and social sciences, to solve the complex multidisciplinary problems that the world is facing? The mission of Rensselaer’s O.T. Swanson Multidisciplinary Design Laboratory (MDL) is to provide clinical real-world experiences for students that build confidence and teaches them to integrate discipline specific knowledge with practice on challenging design projects. The MDL provides a capstone experience intended to prepare students to enter the workforce. The projects are open-ended, technically challenging design problems that encompass a broad array of important contemporary issues. In addition to defining an important problem, sponsors provide a significant grant and their direct participation with the students, faculty and staff who work to provide design solutions. Lessons learned over the past five years have opened our eyes to some of the major changes needed in how to educate engineers and prepare them to enter the workforce. These lessons are expected to influence changes affecting our entire curriculum.
The engineering profession is at a crossroads. The world is becoming increasingly more complex and connected, the advance of science is accelerating, and socio-technical problems are abundant. Engineering has always been viewed as a problem-solving profession, but today’s problems require us to take a fresh look at how we solve problems in the context of this new world. In the United States, the engineering workforce is aging and a new breed of young engineers will be entering the workforce. As educators we must ask ourselves whether we are truly meeting the needs of today’s young people to become engineers. Are we showing students what it really means to be an engineer? Are we inspiring them with the potential benefits they offer to the world? Are our young engineers prepared to successfully integrate knowledge from diverse areas of the sciences, mathematics, arts and humanities, and social sciences, to solve the complex problems that the world is facing?
In the United States, people in government, industry, and academia are asking these questions. Many of the answers indicate an urgent need for change. A new generation of young people, with diverse backgrounds, interests, skills, and needs, must be enthused about the profession of engineering and be prepared, in both technical and non-technical areas, to solve the problems that the 21st century will present. People are starting to refer to this new breed of young professionals as “renaissance engineers” [1, 2]; young men and women who get involved in society, stand for practical and cooperative solutions, and work to change the world to make it a better place to live. To create this new breed of renaissance engineers requires a new approach to engineering education.
Steiner, M. W., & Smith, R. (2006, June), Integration Of Real World Multi Disciplinary Design Experiences Into The Capstone Design Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/846
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015