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Self Organizing Units To Promote Interdisciplinary Teaming In A Course For Pervasive Computing Design

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Conference

2009 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Design in the Classroom

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count

13

Page Numbers

14.1048.1 - 14.1048.13

DOI

10.18260/1-2--5065

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/5065

Download Count

28

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Paper Authors

biography

Lisa McNair Virginia Tech

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Lisa McNair is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she co-directs the Virginia Tech Engineering Communications Center. She received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Chicago in 2002. Her research explores collaboration in interdisciplinary and distributed settings, and institutional structures that encourage transformational learning.

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Chad Newswander Virginia Tech

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Chad Newswander is a graduate student in the Center for Public Administration and Policy at Virginia Tech, studying interdisciplinary design teams with Drs. Lisa McNair and Marie Paretti.

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Eloise Coupey Virginia Tech

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Eloise Coupey is an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. She received her PhD in Business Administration from Duke University in 1990, and a BA degree from Harvard University in 1983.
She researches consumer and managerial decision making, and the nature and influence of information technologies on decision aspects related to the adoption of products and ideas.

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Ed Dorsa Virginia Tech

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Ed Dorsa is an Associate Professor of Industrial Design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech. He received his Master and Bachelor of Industrial Design from the Ohio State University. He is the past Vice President of Education for the Industrial Designers Society of America and has chaired the past two National Education Symposia for IDSA. He presently serves as a Commissioner for Accreditation for the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

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Tom Martin Virginia Tech

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Tom Martin is an associate professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1999 and his BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 1992. Martin is on the steering committee for IEEE Technical Committee for Wearable Information Systems and has served as general chair and program co-chair of the IEEE Computer Society's International Symposium on Wearable Computers.

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Marie Paretti Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-2202-6928

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Marie C. Paretti is an assistant professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she co-directs the Virginia Tech Engineering Communications Center. Her research focuses on communication in engineering design, interdisciplinary communication and collaboration, and design education. She was awarded a CAREER grant from NSF to study expert teaching practices in capstone design courses nationwide, and is co-PI on several NSF grants to explore interdisciplinary collaboration in engineering design.

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

Self-Organizing Units in an Interdisciplinary Course for Pervasive Computing Design

Abstract

We conducted a case study of a design course that focused on bringing together students from engineering, industrial design, and marketing to use pervasive computing technologies to design, coordinate, and build a “smart” dorm room for disabled individuals. The class was loosely structured to encourage innovation, critical thinking and interdisciplinarity. In this environment, teams were created, disassembled, and re-created in a self-organizing fashion. With few norms, teams were expected to be interdisciplinary, form quickly, and work together by creatively integrating their disciplinary expertise.

In observing this semester-long class, we found certain conditions that will enhance pedagogical tools designed to expedite team formation and improve collaborative practices in a classroom setting. Similar to open source software development, we found that groups can form randomly in a loosely coordinated environment that is both self-managing and self-directing if instructors create a strong normative foundation to the class. In this case study, we observed that the applied concept of self-organizing buffered with strong faculty input invests group members with a greater commitment to be productive, effective, and innovative.

Keywords: interdisciplinary collaboration, group formation, self-organizing units

I. Introduction

Work teams are often led by project managers and situated in a large organizational environment where routine and predictability are valued. In certain settings, such as in open source software development,1 groups can form without traditional project management structure in a loosely coordinated environment that is both self-organizing and self-managing. This concept of self- organizing invests group members with a greater commitment to be productive, effective, and innovative. However, there has still been little discussion about self-organizing teams in an educational setting. By breaking down disciplinary divisions to create a well-functioning unit that is coordinated and interdependent, the authors conducted a case study of how instructors can help students replicate emerging industry practices by encouraging students to self-organize teams in an interdisciplinary context that includes engineering, industrial design, and marketing.

The case study focused on a course that brought students from a variety of disciplines together to use pervasive computing technologies to design, coordinate, and build components for a “smart” dorm room for disabled individuals. These intelligent components are intended to transparently interact with users. Examples of projects that the students worked on included a modular furniture system with a survey-based selection system, a social-networking “hive” to help students more easily integrate into the dorm and campus community, an interactive mirror to provide reminders and help with grooming activities, a personal assistant robot to fetch small items and help navigate campus, and a bracelet to provide emergency information, replace door keys, and act as a digital wallet.

McNair, L., & Newswander, C., & Coupey, E., & Dorsa, E., & Martin, T., & Paretti, M. (2009, June), Self Organizing Units To Promote Interdisciplinary Teaming In A Course For Pervasive Computing Design Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5065

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