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Student Learnings and Teaching Insights from a Multidisciplinary Engineering Design Course

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Division (DEED) Technical Session 10

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education Division (DEED)

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Paper Authors


Nusaybah Abu-Mulaweh Johns Hopkins University

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Dr. Nusaybah Abu-Mulaweh is a Center for Leadership Education (CLE) faculty member in the Whiting School of Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University. After earning a BS and MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering, she completed her PhD in Engineering Education at Purdue University. She is passionate about the active process of teaching and learning through authentic real-world experiences that lead students to develop disciplinary knowledge and broad professional skills needed for responding innovatively and responsibly to today’s challenges. Her technical background in electrical and computer engineering and experience in industry coupled with her teaching experience in computing and human-centered design have informed her scholarship, which centers on advancing how engineers design concepts and products that are both innovative and aligned to actual needs through empathic formation.

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Alissa Burkholder Murphy Johns Hopkins University

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Prof. Alissa Burkholder Murphy: Alissa is the founder and director of the Multidisciplinary Design Program at Johns Hopkins, where engineering students from various disciplines collaborate to tackle design challenges with project partners in industry, medicine, and the Baltimore community. Alissa previously taught at Stanford's before coming to Hopkins. Prior to her transition to academia, Alissa worked as a mechanical engineer in the medical device industry of the Bay Area and in agricultural product design in Myanmar. Alissa holds a BS in Engineering Mechanics from Johns Hopkins University and an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.

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Jenna Frye Johns Hopkins University

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Prof. Jenna Frye: Jenna Frye has been a leader in art and design education for nearly 20 years. Her creative work and ideas about education have been showcased nationally and at several annual conferences including the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design, and the College Art Association. She joins the multidisciplinary design faculty eager to explore the problem-solving potential of mixing art and design with engineering. You’ll likely find her designing learning toys and games for her students, fiddling with the latest techno-crafts, or maybe just playing with blocks.

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This paper presents an analysis on student learnings and a reflection on teaching in a multidisciplinary design course. With the rapidly changing global economy and workforce, engineering students need to be prepared to work on complex problems within multidisciplinary teams and design solutions with diverse social and ethical considerations in mind. To address this need, the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University initiated a Multidisciplinary Design Program. Currently, the program offers a two-semester sequence where teams of multidisciplinary engineering students are engaged in design challenges with project partners from medicine, industry, or the social sector. Students are mentored through a human-centered design process to (1) conduct technical, contextual, and user research, (2) focus the challenge, (3) ideate, and (4) prototype and test their solutions. In this paper, we focus on the first semester course from Fall 2022 by discussing the course goals and learning outcomes, the structure of the course, and the course projects. Evaluation data of specific course goals will be analyzed to understand student experiences and perceived learnings in the course. This will provide evidence for the effectiveness and achievement of the desired course outcomes. Insights from the teaching team on the approaches to support the success of students throughout their multidisciplinary design experience are also discussed. Understanding the student learning experience along with insights from the teaching team of the course can also inform the development of a wide range of design experiences for undergraduate engineering students.

Abu-Mulaweh, N., & Burkholder Murphy, A., & Frye, J. (2023, June), Student Learnings and Teaching Insights from a Multidisciplinary Engineering Design Course Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--44303

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