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Northern Arizona University’s “Design4 Practice” Sequence: Interdisciplinary Training In Engineering Design For The Global Era

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



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Page Numbers

6.753.1 - 6.753.10

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Eckehard Doerry

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Bridget Bero

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David Hartman

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

Session 2660

Northern Arizona University’s "Design4Practice" Sequence: Interdisciplinary Training in Engineering Design for the Global Era

Eckehard Doerry1, Bridget Bero2, David Hartman3 1 Computer Science and Eng., 2Civil and Environmental Eng, 3 Mechanical Eng. Northern Arizona University, Box 15600 Flagstaff, Arizona, 86011 USA

Abstract Introduction of computer technology, changing corporate structures, and global competition have significantly changed modern corporate design contents, placing increasing emphasis on individual problem-solving creativity, interdisciplinary collaboration, and teaming and project management skills. NAU’s Design4Practice program explicitly teaches these skills within a novel curriculum centered around a carefully crafted sequence of project-oriented courses. This paper discusses our efforts to extend the program to provide international training opportunities, including integration of the Design4Practice curriculum with that of partner institutions abroad, support for joint projects, and international teaming in interdisciplinary project-oriented courses. 1.0 Introduction A characteristic feature of economic change in the last decade has been the growing trend towards globalization. Through mergers with foreign partners or expansion into foreign markets, many large companies have developed subsidiaries spread across national, cultural, and linguistic borders. As a result, design and development initiatives often involve teams or team members separated by time, distance, and culture. An increasingly common practice in software development, for example, is to spread development of a project between subsidiaries in, say, San Francisco and Frankfurt; the time difference between the two allows the project to move forward non-stop, 24 hours a day. Working in such international teams raises two distinct challenges: Coordination over distance. Coordination of work within distributed teams is extremely challenging, particularly in highly interdependent projects (Dourish and Bellotti 1992; Rogers 1993). Success in distributed teams requires team members to become proficient with sophisticated software tools (known as groupware) and to learn how best to apply them to support the collaborative needs of the team. For example, a team might rely on video- conferencing software to discuss project details, a shared drawing tool to jointly critique a design document, and a private group web page to archive shared resources. Cultural Differences. A growing body of work indicates that cultural and social differences within work groups (whether distributed or co-located) play an enormous role in determining team dynamics, i.e., whether or not a team “comes together” into a cohesive and productive team entity (Vick 1998). In many cases, minor cultural misunderstandings can create serious rifts in cross-cultural teams. For example, European work schedules are commonly more flexible than those in the USA, e.g., a longer midday break followed by work later into the evening. Americans unaware of this difference might perceive continual noontime absence as “laziness”; team morale will suffer accordingly. Similarly, differences in linguistic idioms, social codes,

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Doerry, E., & Bero, B., & Hartman, D. (2001, June), Northern Arizona University’s “Design4 Practice” Sequence: Interdisciplinary Training In Engineering Design For The Global Era Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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