June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.818.1 - 11.818.10
International Citizenship and Global Service Leadership – The Role of Interdisciplinary Teams in Engineering Education
Interdisciplinary design teams are seen as an alternative to traditional engineering department-run capstone design experiences. Tufts University is recognized for providing service opportunities for students in association with host local communities in Massachusetts while engineering service organizations, such as Engineers-Without-Borders, have given students the opportunity to expand this experience to locations beyond the US border. This paper describes how a team of students with backgrounds from many different schools and departments were brought together to implement an engineering project supporting county health education in Gyatsa, China (Tibet Autonomous Region). The value of this experience is discussed with particular emphasis on the contributions to the engineering student education by team members with a non-engineering background. It is concluded that the interdisciplinary team approach provides a valuable pedagogical tool for educating engineering students.
Tufts University aspires to achieve an international reputation for educating engineering leaders with an emphasis on communication skills, interdisciplinary technical preparation, management skills, globalization, and the societal impact of technology. The University mission statement asserts that the schools are “committed both to pursuing disciplinary-based education and scholarship and to exploring the critical, developing areas at the interfaces among and within disciplines. Our goal is to generate, disseminate, and advance knowledge within the ever- changing international, multicultural, and technological context of today's world. The close relationship between the College of Liberal Arts and the School of Engineering creates a special opportunity for joint educational and research programs that can educate engineering students on the importance of the liberal arts, and liberal arts students on the importance of technology.” To this end, the School of Engineering (SOE) sponsored a chapter of Engineers-Without-Borders (EWB) in an effort to provide students with an opportunity to combine learning experiences in the application of technology to socially relevant challenges. This Service Learning initiative is based on successful programs implemented by the Tufts Civil and Environmental Engineering Department both locally in Massachusetts 1-4 and internationally5. Community-based service learning (CSL) is a pedagogical tool that helps students develop a deeper appreciation of engineering as well as to communicate their engineering solutions to both technical and lay audiences.
Mechanical Engineering undergraduate students were particularly active in organizing the student EWB chapter and solicited projects that required skills in mechanical design. The allure of service learning attracted a broad range of students and a conscious decision was made to structure the organization such that a multidisciplinary approach was nurtured and encouraged. The faculty quickly recognized the value in this unique approach to engineering education and integrated this pedagogical evolution into the curriculum as an alternative component of the senior design project.
Proceedings of the 2006 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2006, American Society for Engineering Education
Freeman, S., & Matson, D., & Sharpe, G., & Swan, C. (2006, June), International Citizenship And Global Service Leadership – The Role Of Interdisciplinary Teams In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1261
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