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Leveraging What Freshmen Don't Know: Product Development In An Integrated Business And Engineering Freshman Workshop

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Intro to Engineering: Not Just 1st Year Engineers

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.823.1 - 8.823.22



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Paper Authors

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Todd A. Watkins

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Drew Snyder

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John Ochs

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

Session 1153

Leveraging What Freshmen Don’t Know: Product Development in an Integrated Business and Engineering Freshman Workshop

Todd A. Watkins, John B. Ochs, and Drew M. Snyder

College of Business & Economics/ Department of Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics/ Department of Art & Architecture Lehigh University


This paper discusses one part of our attempts at Lehigh University to put active, inquiry-based, collaborative, multidisciplinary experiences at the center of undergraduate education, starting in the freshman year. We briefly outline the goals, history, structure, and our evaluation of our Integrated Business and Engineering Freshman Workshop, a team-project-based learning course emphasizing entrepreneurial product development. The main goal of the Workshop, and the interdisciplinary curricula which it leads into, is to enable graduates to move more rapidly along their chosen career paths, graduating both competent in their functional disciplines—whether business or engineering—and better prepared for long-term success. Freshmen, by and large, come as a blank slate in terms of disciplinary biases and expectations about college “coursework.” By working in teams on original entrepreneurial, multi-disciplinary product development projects from the first year, students not only become multi-functional, self- directed and team-oriented, but better understand the context of the latter courses in their curricula. The program emphasizes higher-order skill development, including: problem and task identification in ill-defined problems; decision making under uncertainty and lack of information; integrating, connecting, and reflecting on diverse areas of knowledge; and written and oral communication. We also evaluate our progress based on several related sources of qualitative and quantitative assessment information. The paper concludes by exploring the major issues and lessons learned in program implementation.

Overview of collaborative, inquiry-based education

The Lehigh Integrated Business and Engineering (IBE) Freshman Workshop discussed in this paper and the associated capstone experience offered by Lehigh’s Integrated Product Development (IPD) Program (discussed in references 1-3) were designed to squarely address the major issues identified by a seemingly endless series of both academic studies and blue-ribbon panels on education. The common theme throughout is the efficacy, compared with traditional classrooms, of collaborative, active, inquiry-based, experiential learning in developing skills

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Watkins, T. A., & Snyder, D., & Ochs, J. (2003, June), Leveraging What Freshmen Don't Know: Product Development In An Integrated Business And Engineering Freshman Workshop Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11623

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