Asee peer logo

The Growth of Interdisciplinarity in Engineering Education in the 21st Century

Download Paper |


2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

TELPhE Division Technical Session 2: The Broadening Face of Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Mousumi Roy P.E. University of Connecticut

visit author page

Dr. Roy earned her Doctoral degree from Columbia University, NY, MS from The Cooper Union, NY, and BS from Jadavpur University, India. She has a joint appointment in Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and Management & Engineering for Manufacturing Program (a collaboration between School of Engineering and Business) as an Assistant Professor in Residence in University of Connecticut. Her research interests include interdisciplinarity in Automation, Industry 4.0, Humanitarian Engineering and Sustainability.

Before joining academia, she worked in many reputed consulting firms such as Weidlinger Associates, BA&C, and WBCM in MA, NJ and MD for more than15 years. Her work experience included analyzing, designing, and supervising construction of buildings, bridges and other structures.

visit author page

Download Paper |


During the exploration and progression of knowledge from the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries, there was no established boundaries for disciplines, and scholars made simultaneous contributions in many knowledge domains. With the evolution of the first two industrial revolutions, a growth of specialization in engineering field of expertise began emerging in the nineteenth century. The second half of the twentieth century saw the rise of the silos in engineering due to the requirement of disciplinary specializations. Advanced technologies such as personal computers and internet served as a major catalyst in accelerated growth in depth and breadth of knowledge in respective engineering discipline during the third industrial revolution. With the advent of the fourth industrial revolution, we are beginning to study evolving phenomenon involving the breaking down the silos resulting in the emergence of interdisciplinarity across and beyond engineering fields.

From a pedagogical perspective, two distinct types of interdisciplinary approaches are identified: 1) Bolstering of existing fields with infusion of technological knowledge and 2) Evolution of hybrid fields combining two or more existing fields. Inclusion of emerging technologies in the era of Industry 4.0 such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet-of-Things (IoT), and Robotics will also be discussed. Examples such as smart cities, smart manufacturing, and innovations in the medical & health sectors will be used to demonstrate pedagogical approaches. The engineering educational curriculum of the third decade of the 21st century is proposed to be as follows: 1) Creation of new curriculum incorporating hybrid education 2) Use of new teaching tools offering flexibility to students and 3) Proposing interdisciplinary within and across programs between different engineering disciplines.

Roy, M. (2021, July), The Growth of Interdisciplinarity in Engineering Education in the 21st Century Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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: © 2021 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