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Multidisciplinary Experiences For Undergraduate Engineering Students

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

ABET Accreditation of Multidisciplinary Programs

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1087.1 - 12.1087.7



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Paper Authors


Fred DePiero California Polytechnic State University

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Dr. Fred DePiero received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University in 1985 and 1987. He then worked as a Development Associate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory until 1993. While there he was involved in a variety of real-time image processing projects including a high-compression video transmission system for remote driving and several laser-based ranging systems. Fred began working on his Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee while still at ORNL, and completed it in May 1996. His research interests include multidisciplinary applications of graph matching and range data sensing, registration and surface modeling. Fred joined the faculty at CalPoly in September of 1996. His teaching areas include signal and image processing. Fred is presently an Assistant Dean in the College of Engineering and leads the ABET accreditation efforts.

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Lynne Slivovsky California Polytechnic State University

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Lynne Slivovsky received her B.S. in Computer and Electrical Engineering and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 1992, 1993, and 2001, respectively. She worked with the Engineering Projects In Community Service (EPICS) Program from 2001 to 2003. In Fall 2003, she started a tenure-track assistant professor position in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She received a Frontiers In Education New Faculty Fellow Award in 2003. In 2006, she was named the Hood Professor of Electrical Engineering. Her research is in the areas of haptics, human computer interaction, computer vision, and engineering education. In her free time, she enjoys mountaineering, kayaking, and photography.

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

Multidisciplinary Experiences For Undergraduate Engineering Students


Multidisciplinary (MD) team skills are of increasing importance in industry, and are required for programs that are ABET accredited. This can be challenging to provide, particularly for programs with high unit counts and a large student body. We have responded by establishing a multidisciplinary graduation requirement across the College of Engineering at Cal Poly. This requirement is mandatory. It may be satisfied by various curricular and co-curricular routes, easing throughput issues compared to having a single venue. In the paper we describe activities that satisfy the MD requirement, our general approach and assessment methods.

Industry Need

Globalization of industry is adding pressure to the need for engineers that contribute effectively in team environments. This is becoming an increasing challenge for engineering programs to embrace, as they also face expanding disciplinary material. The tendency to favor disciplinary content versus interdisciplinary content was identified 10 years ago, for example in the 1997 Professional Activities Conference of the IEEE5, “Our education is not only essentially technical but, in recent years, has suffered from lack of breadth. It has become specialized and tends toward the high-level trade school approach.” Despite the emphasis on disciplinary studies, the need to function on multidisciplinary teams remains.

Earlier still, the 1995 National Research Council (NRC) and National Science Foundation (NSF) convocation on Undergraduate Education7 describes - "The needs of the work force are changing (American Society for Engineering Education, 1994; National Academy of Sciences, 1995) … dynamics in the labor market are putting a premium on students who have a broad knowledge of different subjects, … and the ability to work in teams. Students educated with a narrow disciplinary focus and in solitary learning styles can have difficulties adjusting to such an environment. Indeed, such difficulties are a dominant theme in the complaints voiced by business leaders about contemporary under- graduate education."

In February 2006, the IEEE updated its Code of Ethics by removing the word ‘engineering’ from its first point, changing “to accept responsibility in making engineering decisions” to “to accept responsibility in making decision”. Here, a professional organization has broadened the view of its standards. This is in contrast to the narrowing focus of many academic departments, and further emphasizes the need for change in academia.

DePiero, F., & Slivovsky, L. (2007, June), Multidisciplinary Experiences For Undergraduate Engineering Students Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2841

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