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Multidisciplinary Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) Teams at the University of Hawaii: Challenges and Synergy

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Teamwork

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


A Zachary Trimble University of Hawaii at Manoa

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A Zachary Trimble is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and self described Gizmologist. Zac received his bachelor's from the University of Utah and both his Masters' and PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for his work on Vibration Energy Harvesting. Currently Zac is pursuing research in precision astronomical instruments, Anisotropy in 3D printing, Frequency Tuning of Vibration Energy Harvesters, automating climate change studies, and autonomous systems.

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Wayne A. Shiroma University of Hawaii at Manoa

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Wayne A. Shiroma received the B.S. degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the M.Eng. degree from Cornell University, and the Ph.D. degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, all in electrical engineering. In 1996, he joined the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he is currently Professor and Chair of Electrical Engineering. He has authored or coauthored over 100 publications in the areas of phased arrays, spatial power combining, and nanosatellites. He was also a Member of the Technical Staff with Hughes Space and Communications, El Segundo, CA. Dr. Shiroma was the recipient of the the 2015 UH Peter V. Garrod Outstanding Graduate Mentoring Award and the 2003 UH Regents Medal for Excellence in Teaching, the ten-campus UH System’s most prestigious teaching award. Since 2001, IEEE-HKN, the international honor society for IEEE, recognized four of his graduating seniors as the most outstanding electrical engineering students in the U.S.

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David Garmire University of Hawaii at Manoa

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David Garmire received B.S. degrees at Carnegie Mellon University, and the Ph.D. at UC Berkeley in 2007 with a certificate in Management of Technology from the Haas School of Business. He won the 2008 Ross N Tucker Award for advancing semiconductor technology and the 2007 Sevin Rosen Funds Award for Innovation. He is currently an Associate Professor in the department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he develops microsensors, microactuators, and technologies for rapid prototyping, visualization, renewable energies and sustainability.

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Aaron T. Ohta University of Hawaii at Manoa

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Dr. Aaron Ohta received a B.S. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2003, an M.S. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2004, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008, all in the field of electrical engineering. He is currently an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he has been since 2009. Dr. Ohta's research interests include microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and microfluidics. He has published two book chapters and over 100 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers, and is co-inventor on three U.S. patents.

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The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program is characterized by large, multidisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students focused on long-term research problems aligned with the faculty mentor's field of interest. In terms of methodology, it follows a project-based cohort approach to education where students can potentially work on the same project over multiple years and with a familiar group of students. One of the challenges in running a VIP team is the multidisciplinary aspect. This paper discusses the challenges associated with transitioning traditionally discipline-siloed projects to multidisciplinary projects using VIP as the catalyst. Said another way, we describe the ongoing lessons learned of changing the mindset of students (and faculty) from ``you're electrical engineering, I'm mechanical engineering'' to ``we're engineering''.

In Fall 2015, the VIP Program at the University of Hawai`i consisted of six VIP teams: three composed primarily of EE students, one composed of ME students, and two with a mix of engineering students. The latter two teams are used as case studies to test our theories for incorporating multidisciplinary VIP teams into existing curricula. A desired outcome of this investigation will be elucidating a best-practices approach for VIP teams across disciplines including electrical, computer, mechanical, and civil engineering. This includes how to initiate formation of such groups, how to handle curriculum challenges between the programs, and how to handle the needs of the students within this educational program. Ultimately, we hope to develop learning in a multidisciplinary design environment that also fulfills the requirements of a degree in engineering, to the benefit of all the students involved, regardless of major.

Trimble, A. Z., & Shiroma, W. A., & Garmire, D., & Ohta, A. T. (2016, June), Multidisciplinary Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) Teams at the University of Hawaii: Challenges and Synergy Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25766

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