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Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Capstone Courses

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Design I

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Benjamin Goldschneider Virginia Tech

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Benjamin Goldschneider is a PhD student in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. His research interests include multidisciplinary collaboration, engineering identity development, student motivation, and student competencies.

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Nicole P. Pitterson Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Nicole is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Prior to joining VT, Dr. Pitterson was a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University. She holds a PhD in Engineering Education from Purdue University and other degrees in Manufacturing Engineering from Western Illinois University and a B.Sc. in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Technology, Jamaica. Her research interest is eliciting conceptual understanding of AC circuit concepts using active learning strategies.

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Senior capstone classes are unique and crucial experiences for undergraduate students, in that they provide long-term, often synthesis-based projects in a collaborative environment. Yet, an overwhelming majority of programs do not provide students with the chance to work cooperatively across disciplinary lines. Those that do typically only allow for interaction between groups within the same overarching discipline such as Mechanical or Electrical Engineering. Ideally, the capstone experience is meant to foreshadow the type of interaction and work that a student will engage in, easing their transition into the work environment following graduation. In industry, engineers are expected to work collaboratively with experts in several technical and non-technical domains. Subsequently, capstone classes are lacking the ability to prepare undergraduate students for membership on the interdisciplinary teams that exist in workplaces within the United States and abroad. As such, the purpose of this paper is to describe the process of creating and subsequent plans for implementation of an interdisciplinary capstone course at a large research-intensive institution in the Southeast US. The challenges associated with developing a course that meets the need of each disciplinary capstone experience and spans the boundary of different approaches to pedagogy, knowledge structure and learning will be explored as well.

Goldschneider, B., & Pitterson, N. P. (2019, June), Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Capstone Courses Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--31912

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