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Interdisciplinary Design, A Case Study On Students' Experience In The P3 Competition

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Instructional Innovations in AEC Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.787.1 - 13.787.13



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Paper Authors


Khaled Mansy Oklahoma State University

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Prof. Mansy is an Associate Professor teaching Sustainable Design and Environmental Control in the School of Architecture, Oklahoma State University.

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Mohammad Bilbeisi Oklahoma State University

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Prof. Bilbeisi is an Associate Professor teaching architectural design in the School of Architecture, Oklahoma State University.

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

Interdisciplinary Design A Case Study on Students’ Experience in the P3 Competition Abstract

Teaching green design in academia is challenging. Due to its very nature, green design is interdisciplinary. On the other hand, in a typical case in academia, there tends to be a separation between disciplines. This paper reports on the experience of a group of undergraduate students; who, while participating in the national sustainable design competition (P3 competition), were asked to perform an interdisciplinary design task. The subject of this interdisciplinary design competition was to design an adaptive sustainable manufactured home, which is energy-efficient, adaptive, portable, affordable, aesthetically-pleasing, and can be manufactured locally. The paper thoroughly explains the design challenge, the performance-based objectives, the quantitative design-assisting tools used by the students, four examples of the students’ work, quantitative findings, and conclusions of the design competition.

1. Introduction: P3 Competition

The P3 Competition is a national student sustainable design competition sponsored by the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). It is a competition to the benefit of People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3). One of the competition’s primary goals is to disseminate the concept of sustainable design in higher education, which subsequently makes it an appropriate vehicle for introducing interdisciplinary design to university students.

The authors of this paper agree with the understanding of sustainability as a “design approach”1, which is certainly a holistic (i.e., interdisciplinary) approach that takes into account all related externalities in order to solve a specific design problem. The authors were awarded $10,000 from the EPA, which they used to integrate the P3 competition as an educational tool in an elective course they co-taught on sustainable design. The design project, explained below, was the required final assignment in the course, in which students were expected to apply the knowledge and skills they acquired during the semester on the topic of “Sustainable Design in Architecture”.

2. Design Competition Entry

The subject, chosen by the faculty, for this competition entry was “The Chameleon House, an Adaptive Sustainable Manufactured Home”. In this design challenge, participating student teams were asked to generate concept designs for a manufactured home that uses minimal amount of purchased energy to provide heating and cooling for its occupants. The objective was to design a portable house that can adapt to the possible range of climatic conditions within the geographic borders of the State of Oklahoma.

3. Interdisciplinary Design & the Integrated Design Method

Working on the P3 competition, eight student teams enjoyed the challenge and understood the crucial role of inter-disciplinary design in creating a sustainable building. The design challenge required students to perform inter-disciplinary tasks, in which each team had to simultaneously

Mansy, K., & Bilbeisi, M. (2008, June), Interdisciplinary Design, A Case Study On Students' Experience In The P3 Competition Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3436

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