June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Systems Engineering Constituent Committee
11.815.1 - 11.815.9
Interdisciplinary Design Teams – Lessons Learned by Experience Introduction
Capstone design has traditionally been a highlight of a student’s study at LeTourneau University. As a general engineering program offering a B.S. in Engineering with concentrations in Electrical, Mechanical, Computer, Biomedical, and Materials Joining, it is our goal to involve as many students as possible in an interdisciplinary design experience involving two or more concentrations. As we offer projects each year, we define more clearly the purposes and guidelines for the senior design experience, important lessons in interdisciplinary design, and the factors for project success.
Student involvement in interdisciplinary teams is not only an expectation of industry but also has become a required outcome of the ABET engineering criteria. EC2000 criteria now include outcome 3d which states that “engineering programs must demonstrate that their graduates have…an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams.”1 This requirement can be met in a number of ways, including a structured simulated experience or by an actual capstone project that requires the involvement of several disciplines.
Obstacles to multi-disciplinary teamwork, including disciplinary competition, communication problems, and scheduling difficulties often limit the effectiveness of such teams. We previously reported2 on a series of curriculum “tools” which have been initiated in our program to insure that students will have a measure of success in project teamwork. These methods include (1) multiple and varied opportunities for projects in teams, (2) early involvement in senior project teams, (3) specific training for teamwork, (4) coursework in and application of project management techniques, and (5) the use of multiple items of feedback to determine the contribution of each team member.
Purposes and Guidelines
Senior design projects in our engineering curriculum serve a number of purposes for the students: 1. Experience involvement in a capstone design, using prior course material to solve an ill-defined problem and to develop a workable solution. 2. Bring a “paper” design to reality and learn from the experience of solving unexpected problems. 3. Gain familiarity with design techniques and project management tools. 4. Interface with a client, develop specifications, and present reports. 5. Develop teamwork skills. 6. Learn new techniques, which become required as the project develops. 7. Gain exposure to significant interdisciplinary work wherever possible. 8. Mimic industry approaches on a small scale.
Senior design faculty in our program have developed the following guidelines for the senior design courses:
Leiffer, P., & Gonzalez, R., & Hellmuth, T. (2006, June), Interdisciplinary Design Teams Lessons Learned From Experience Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--228
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