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Multi Disciplinary Teaching And Learning In A Senior Project Course

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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

Design Through the Curriculum

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.865.1 - 8.865.16



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Paper Authors

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Michael Ellis

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

Session No. 2366


Michael W. Ellis Department of Mechanical Engineering Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA 24060

ABSTRACT Multi-disciplinary team projects provide students with an opportunity to expand not only their knowledge, but also their approach to design. This paper reviews teaching and student learning in a multi-disciplinary senior design project in which a team of mechanical engineering students worked with students from architecture, industrial design, and building construction to design and build a grid independent solar house. The solar house competed with thirteen other schools in the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon design competition. The course objectives, structure, and evaluation methods are described. Results from a survey suggest that the course helped students to develop teamwork and communication skills. Further, through interaction with students from a very different educational background, the engineering students developed a deeper understanding of their own approach to design as well as an appreciation for alternative approaches.

I. INTRODUCTION Capstone courses in which students participate in a design project are an accepted part of the engineering curriculum at most schools1. In the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech, the capstone experience is a two semester sequence of courses in which students design and implement a product or engineered system. The first course in the sequence, ME4015, introduces the product development process and stresses concept development and preliminary design. The subsequent course, ME4016, focuses on detail design, implementation, and testing. The courses are taught in multiple sections with each section assigned a specific team project. Enrollment in each section ranges from 5 to 30 students depending on the scope of the project. These projects generally involve only mechanical engineering students, although some of the larger projects such as the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team and the Autonomous Vehicle Team involve students from other engineering disciplines. This paper describes experiences with a senior design project that is multi-disciplinary in a very broad sense, involving students from mechanical and electrical engineering as well as students from architecture, industrial design, and building construction. These students worked together to construct a solar powered house for participation in the Solar Decathlon competition.

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

Ellis, M. (2003, June), Multi Disciplinary Teaching And Learning In A Senior Project Course Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12246

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