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Research Conversations for Promoting Interdisciplinary Education, Research, and Faculty Collaboration

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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

Promoting Multidisciplinary Efforts

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Priya Manohar Robert Morris University

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Dr. Priyadarshan (Priya) Manohar Dr. Priyadarshan Manohar is an Associate Professor of Engineering and Co-Director Research and Outreach Center (ROC) at Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh, PA. He has a Ph. D. in Materials Engineering (1998) and Graduate Diploma in Computer Science (1999) from University of Wollongong, Australia and holds Bachelor of Engineering (Metallurgical Engineering) degree from Pune University, India (1985). He has worked as a post-doctoral research fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh (2001 – 2003) and BHP Institute for Steel Processing and Products, Australia (1998 – 2001). Dr. Manohar held the position of Chief Materials Scientist at Modern Industries, Pittsburgh (2003 – 2004) and Assistant Manager (Metallurgy Group), Engineering Research Center, Telco, India (1985 – 1993). He has published over 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals and conferences including a 2007 Best Paper Award by the Manufacturing Division of American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), three review papers and five book chapters. He has participated in numerous national and international conferences. He is a member of ASM International, TMS, ACerS, AIST, ASEE, and a registered Chartered Professional Engineer. Dr. Manohar’s research interests include mathematical and computer modeling of materials behavior, thermo-mechanical processing of steels and other metallic materials, microstructural characterization, and structure – property relationships. He has conducted a number of technical failure investigations, consulted on various materials-related problems, and acted as an expert witness in the Court of Law. Dr. Manohar is the past chair of the Manufacturing Division of ASEE and also of the ASM Pittsburgh Chapter.

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It has been long recognized that one of the most important aspect of delivering high quality STEM education is to provide the students with an educational experience that includes a wide range of knowledge including not only engineering, science, and mathematics but also liberal arts education such as ergonomics (operation, safety, usability), business (economics, marketing, management, planning, corporate identity), aesthetics (form, visualization, style), and social, environmental, and cultural issues. In response to this need, the School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science (SEMS) at the author’s institution formed a Research and Outreach Center (ROC) in the year 2010. The center activities support the development interdisciplinary curricula at the undergraduate level and encourage faculty and student engagement in interdisciplinary projects that could be later presented at the university, regional, national and international levels. SEMS-ROC demonstrates diversity in research backgrounds of the faculty and includes interdisciplinary interests of all three departments in the school. Research activities tend to cluster around several broad topic areas involving faculty from across SEMS disciplines as well as in some cases, from other Schools at the institution along with other institutions around the country.

One of the initiatives undertaken at SEMS-ROC to break down the departmental-level and school-level silos and encourage to nurture the development of interdisciplinary work environment was the “Research Conversations” meetings. These meetings were held in an informal way to provide a platform for faculty to share their own research expertise with their peers and to learn from each other. This peer-to-peer contact also had a positive effect of finding common interests, explore overlapping areas of research, forming collegial relationships that blossomed later into multidisciplinary teams. Several research project ideas came forward though this knowledge diffusion which led to grant applications, the development of ideas for undergraduate curricula, active research programs and subsequent conference and journal paper publications. This type of collaboration and interaction is especially important for small and medium schools and universities where undergraduate/graduate teaching accounts for a major portion of the faculty workload. Some of these conversations were also summarized and published as Research Highlights newsletter after an editorial process to promote and advertise the research conducted within the university.

This paper summarizes the design of Research Conversations meetings, presents the impact it has had on the development of interdisciplinary work culture at author’s institution and its role in leading towards reaching educational objectives of the department, the school and the institution.

Manohar, P. (2016, June), Research Conversations for Promoting Interdisciplinary Education, Research, and Faculty Collaboration Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26078

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