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Using Interdisciplinary Laboratory Experiences To Teach Teamwork Skills.

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.1105.1 - 6.1105.7

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Paper Authors

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William Watkins

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John Sullivan

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

Session 2149


William A. Watkins, John P. Sullivan Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN


With the integration of Total Quality Management (TQM) and World Class Manufacturing (WCM) philosophies into today’s industrial environment, educational institutions have been asked by industry to incorporate more activities designed to develop skills related to working in teams. As a result many academic institutions have implemented team based laboratory activities. Since most industrial teams include individuals from different management and manufacturing disciplines (such as sales, engineering, manufacturing, purchasing and manpower planning), if the educational institution’s efforts do not involve some type of interdisciplinary activities, much of the potential learning experience may be lost. Although developing team- oriented activities for a given class exposes students to some elements of group dynamics and teamwork, such activities fall short of the objectives of the industry’s request. This is because the higher-level technical courses have prerequisites, resulting in all members of the team having similar academic backgrounds and academic objectives for the tasks.

This paper describes how and why Purdue University’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Engineering) (AAE) has joined forces with the Aeronautical Technology Section (AOT) of the University’s Department of Aviation Technology (AT) on experimental basis to provide senior level students with a design/build/text experience in an interdisciplinary team environment. The paper identifies the two types of projects (specific objective and research) used in support of interdisciplinary activities. It describes previous projects and discusses some of the successes and difficulties experienced in pursuit of this effort. Industry’s reaction to these interdisciplinary team activities is discussed, as well as, future plans for the expansion of interdisciplinary design/build/test team projects.


Purdue University provides a unique combination of associated fields of study. Among these fields of study are the Schools of Engineering and the School of Technology’s various departments. Although each School includes theoretical and application techniques in its curriculum, the Schools of Engineering generally speaking concentrate on the theoretical application of science and engineering principles, while the Departments of Technology focus on the application techniques related to these principles. Among these schools and departments are

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Watkins, W., & Sullivan, J. (2001, June), Using Interdisciplinary Laboratory Experiences To Teach Teamwork Skills. Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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