June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.1231.1 - 12.1231.19
Redesigning a College-Wide Multidisciplinary Senior Design Program at RIT
Since 2002, the Kate Gleason College of Engineering (KGCOE) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has seen its Multidisciplinary Senior Design (MSD) program grow from a small pilot project into a college-wide initiative, involving four departments and almost 400 students annually. While subtle adjustments have been made each year, a major redesign effort was undertaken prior to the 2006 academic year to improve program alignment with departmental objectives, to improve delivery efficiency and effectiveness, and to improve student and faculty satisfaction.
The project definition process was overhauled to focus on the definition of related projects within a set of disciplinary “tracks,” consistent with academic programs and faculty interests. Emphasis was placed on development of reusable and scalable platforms to lay the foundation for future project extensions, and to encourage cross-project and cross-department collaboration. To reduce startup time normally associated with student projects, day-long workshops were developed for the first four weeks that forced intense focus on customer requirements, engineering specifications, and concept development and selection. The workshop structure and format further encouraged collaboration within and across teams. Lastly, a Wiki-based online environment was created to support knowledge capture and emergent collaboration.
This paper provides an overview of changes to the MSD program in three key areas: course delivery, project definition, and communications infrastructure. Attention is given to innovative approaches to challenges inherent in serving a large and diverse constituency with limited resources.
Project-based “capstone” design has become an integral component of the undergraduate engineering experience. Howe and Wilbarger1 surveyed over 400 programs in the 2005 National Survey of Engineering Capstone Design Courses, a follow-up to a comprehensive survey conducted by Todd in 19942. Last year’s ASEE conference contained a number of papers on capstone design programs3-9, with many of them focusing on assessment practices and lessons learned. Important benefits associated with collaborative design projects include: innovative problem solving, improved handling of complexity and ambiguity, enhanced communications skills and self-confidence, and improvements in team building and interpersonal interactions. Nevertheless, the integration of practical engineering design into engineering curricula has a long way to go. Todd10 has addressed issues inherent with engaging, evaluating, and rewarding faculty. Dym and colleagues11 have detailed challenges associated with teaching design and have provided suggestions for improving design learning, with particular attention to project-based learning. To guide program developers, these authors have defined critical skills associated with design thinking: tolerance for ambiguity, systems thinking and systems design, ability to handle uncertainty, decision making, thinking as part of a team, and thinking and communicating in
Walter, W., & Webb, J., & Smith, M., & DeBartolo, E., & Bailey, M., & Slack, G. (2007, June), Redesigning A College Wide Multidisciplinary Engineering Design Program At Rit Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2248
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