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Multidisciplinary Student Experiences In A Liberal Arts Engineering Program

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.298.1 - 2.298.7



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Paper Authors

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James vanPutten

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Brad Mulder

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John Krupczak

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

Session 1661

Multidisciplinary Student Experiences in a Liberal Arts Engineering Program

John Krupczak, Jr., Brad Mulder, and James vanPutten, Jr. Hope College


A two-semester senior undergraduate design sequence has been developed for an engineering program in a liberal arts college. The courses provide a wide range of design experiences including: study of structured design methodologies, individual and team projects, prototype construction, communication of design results, incorporation of industrial design problems, and experience in a multidisciplinary design environment. The first semester course uses individual projects proposed by each student as a means of developing an understanding of structured engineering design methods. The wide variety of individual projects initiated by the students provided a broad spectrum of engineering design problems for the entire class to study. The experience gained through individual design projects enables students to effectively participate in multidisciplinary team projects. Multidisciplinary design team experience is achieved in the second semester of the sequence. Student engineers are teamed with industrial participants with engineering backgrounds different from that of the students. Results are described from the first offering of this sequence to fourteen students at Hope College from the 1996/97 academic year.


Engineering design challenges educators with the problem of incorporation of a diverse range of experiences into the engineering design course. Common elements considered essential to the capstone design experience include: use of formal engineering design methods, experience working in teams, prototype construction, contact with industry, and development of communication skills1. Recently, the ability to function on multidisciplinary teams has been added to the outcomes expected from an engineering education2. This growing list of expectations for engineering design experiences occurs simultaneously with a demand not to increase the credit hour requirements for completion of the undergraduate degree. The multidisciplinary experience has been achieved in a liberal arts engineering program through the use of industrially-sponsored design projects which place student engineers on design teams with industrial participants representing engineering disciplines that are different from those of the students. This approach to multidisciplinary experience is similar to design programs pursued in larger university-based engineering programs3,4. A distinctive feature of the program described here is the use of a first semester course which develops the individual design skills.

vanPutten, J., & Mulder, B., & Krupczak, J. (1997, June), Multidisciplinary Student Experiences In A Liberal Arts Engineering Program Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6696

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