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Student Benefits of Multidisciplinary versus Single-Disciplinary Design Experiences: A Cohort Study of a Capstone Design Program

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count

4

DOI

10.18260/p.25900

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/25900

Download Count

129

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Paper Authors

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Jenni Buckley University of Delaware

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Dr. Buckley is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of Delaware. She received her Bachelor’s of Engineering (2001) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware, and her MS (2004) and PhD (2006) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked on computational and experimental methods in spinal biomechanics. Since 2006, her research efforts have focused on the development and mechanical evaluation of medical and rehabilitation devices, particularly orthopaedic, neurosurgical, and pediatric devices. She teaches courses in design, biomechanics, and mechanics at University of Delaware and is heavily involved in K12 engineering education efforts at the local, state, and national levels.

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Amy Trauth University of Delaware Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-5146-592X

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Amy Trauth-Nare, Ph.D., is the Associate Director of Science Education at the University of Delaware's Professional Development Center for Educators. In her role, Amy works collaboratively with K-12 science and engineering teachers to develop and implement standards-based curricula and assessments. She also provides mentoring and coaching and co-teaching support to K-12 teachers across the entire trajectory of the profession. Her research focuses on teacher education, classroom assessment, and P-16 environmental and engineering education.

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Jeannie S. Stephens University of Delaware

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Jeannie Stephens received her doctoral degree in materials science and engineering from the University of Delaware in 2004. Since then, she has been a National Research Council fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a post doctoral fellow at Rice University, and a research scientist at DePuy Synthes (companies of Johnson & Johnson). Stephens first joined BME in September 2013 as temporary faculty and is now an assistant professor of instruction and associate director of BME’s undergraduate program. In this role, she will strengthen the department’s connection with the local medical community, both in clinical and industrial settings, in order to foster undergraduate design projects as well as internship and employment opportunities for our students.

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Sarah Ilkhanipour Rooney University of Delaware Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://0000-0002-9850-771X

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Sarah I. Rooney is an Assistant Professor in the Biomedical Engineering department at the University of Delaware, where she seeks to bring evidence-based teaching practices to the undergraduate curriculum. She received her B.S.E. (2009) and M.S.E. (2010) in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and her Ph.D. (2015) in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Dustyn Roberts P.E. University of Delaware

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Dustyn Roberts received her B.S. in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University (2003), her M.S. in Biomechanics & Movement Science (2004) from the University of Delaware, and her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (2014) from New York University. She has six years of professional experience in the robotics and medical fields, and is passionate about translational research and engineering education.

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Abstract

This work in progress describes a cohort study of a recent modification to a well-established capstone engineering design program to incorporate multidisciplinary student teams. As such, it presents a unique opportunity to evaluate student outcomes as it relates to working within multidisciplinary versus single-disciplinary teams for substantive engineering design projects. There has been much emphasis placed on the benefits of multidisplinary instruction and teaming with little empirical evidence to support such claims, in part because opportunities to directly compare multidisciplinary versus single-disciplinary teaming experiences are relatively rare.

The capstone engineering course, Senior Design, historically has been a 6-credit, one semester course in fall semester for senior mechanical engineering undergraduates at a mid-sized, research-intensive university. For the past decade, Senior Design has involved teams of 4-5 students working on one of 15-25 projects sponsored by local industry, engineering firms, and in some instances industry-affiliated academic groups. A team of 4-6 full and part-time mechanical engineering faculty manages the course; each faculty member advises 3-5 teams each. Beginning Fall 2013, the newly formed biomedical engineering program adopted the mechanical engineering model for Senior Design and merged a large cohort of its students into interdisciplinary teams with mechanical engineers. Biomedical engineering faculty also began advising select teams, in partnership with mechanical engineering faculty. Multidisciplinary projects are exclusively focused on the biomedical sector, and project sponsors represent the biotech industry, the clinical sector, and non-profit and start-up entities. A relatively small number of electrical and environmental engineers also joined the multidisciplinary program beginning in 2013. While 30-40% of mechanical engineering students and 75-90% of biomedical engineering students select multidisciplinary projects, there are cohorts who work on teams composed exclusively of students within their major.

The rollout of the multidisciplinary senior design program and the existence of sub-sections of the program that remain single-disciplinary provide us with a unique opportunity to study short- and long-term effects of multidisciplinary teaming on student outcomes. We are conducting an online follow-up study of students who have completed the course since its redesign in 2012. The survey focuses on the impact of team composition on short-term measures such as perception of project outcome and team dynamics and long-term measures such as job placement and performance, particularly as it relates to communication and team dynamics. We anticipate the findings from this work-in-progress study will provide empirical support for multidisciplinary experiences for students by highlighting short and long-term educational and career-development benefits.

Buckley, J., & Trauth, A., & Stephens, J. S., & Rooney, S. I., & Roberts, D. (2016, June), Student Benefits of Multidisciplinary versus Single-Disciplinary Design Experiences: A Cohort Study of a Capstone Design Program Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25900

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015