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Utilizing Project-based Multidisciplinary Design Activities to Enhance STEM Education

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Potpourri

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1453.1 - 25.1453.11



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Paper Authors


Andy Shaojin Zhang New York City College of Technology

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Andy S. Zhang earned his master's in mechanical engineering from the City College of New York in 1987 and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 1995. Zhang’s research area includes materials testing, product design and prototyping, CAD/CAE, and mechatronics. From 2007 to 2009, Zhang served as a member of the Pre-engineering Advisory Commission of Advisory Council for Career and Technical Education of NYC Department of Education, which was designed to help high schools to enhance existing technology curricula and to create new courses to meet the New York State Education Department’s new technology standard. Zhang is also a member of the NYC FIRST Robotic Competition’s Planning Committee. This committee is responsible to provide training to FIRST mentors and high school students on robot building and programming. For the past three years, Zhang has organized numerous weekends and after school robotic training workshops for high school students.

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Farrukh Zia New York City College of Technology


Iem H. Heng New York City College of Technology

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Iem Heng earned his bachelor’s degree from Providence College (Providence, R.I.) with double majors in the pre-engineering program and mathematics. In addition, he earned another bachelor’s degree from Columbia University (New York, N.Y.) in mechanical engineering, master’s in applied mathematics from Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, Mich.), and his Ph.D. in computational and applied mathematics from Old Dominion University (Norfolk, Va.). Before joining the EMT/CET Department at City Tech in fall of 2007, he was a faculty member and Chair of the CET department at DeVry Institute of Technology (Long Island City, N.Y.). He worked as a researcher for NASA - Langley Base in Hampton, Va., for two years. His research activities include embedded systems, software development for embedded systems with real time simulation, real time gaming simulation programming, and web application programming.

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Sidi Berri New York City College of Technology

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Sidi Berri earned his master’s in mechanical engineering from NYU Poly in 1997 and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from NYU Poly in 2000. Berri has been the Chairman of the Mechanical Engineering Technology Department of NYCCT since 2002. His research areas include vibration analysis, stress analysis, product design, CAD/CAM, and composite materials.

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Utilizing Project-Based Multidisciplinary Design Activities to Enhance STEM Education AbstractThis paper discusses the use of project-based interdisciplinary design activities to enhance theSTEM education in City Tech’s School of Technology and Design. STEM education has been akey in producing qualified individuals to work in today’s fast paced, highly competitive companies.Unfortunately, the supply of qualified workforce has been reduced due to the steady drop ofenrollment of college and high school students in STEM related fields for the past twenty years. Totackle the dwindling enrollment of STEM students and low quality of STEM graduates, in a reportsubmitted to Congress in 2007, the National Science Board suggested that measures be taken sothat all students can develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what wasconsidered acceptable in the past with an increased emphasis on technology and engineering at alllevels in the Nation’s education system. The Board gave two priority recommendations: (1) EnsureCoherence in Nation’s STEM Education System; (2) Ensure that Students Are Taught by Well-Prepared and Highly Effective STEM Teachers.There is a need to change the perception of STEM education. STEM education cannot be viewed asteaching four unrelated subject matters. STEM education should be treated as an integral education.Mathematics, science, technology and engineering are taught in classes in hope that students willuse these subjects simultaneously to make new discoveries, to explore new ideas, to make newproducts and to provide better services. As such, more project-based activities, that enable studentsto apply the knowledge and skills they learn from STEM courses should be implemented intocurriculums. Practical hands-on learning-by-doing activities go hand-in-hand with STEMeducation. They complement each other. If a person does not have a good STEM knowledge, it isdifficult for him/or her to become a competent innovator and designer. However, if a persondemonstrates excellent STEM knowledge on exams, it does not mean this individual can be acompetent designer or engineer overnight. Any successful designer or engineer would agree that ittakes many years of experience and setbacks for him or her to reach that level.A top-down “reverse engineering approach” is used to tie design activities to various elements inSTEM. Currently, most traditional STEM projects aimed at improving the STEM educationaddress only one or two elements of STEM education and lack suitable activities to keep studentsengaged. Project-based design activities have proven to be very effective in attracting andmotivating young people to study. The top-down learning-by-doing approach gives students asense of accomplishment at each stage of their course work. That in turn, will inspire the studentsto continuously engage and focus on the STEM subject matter. Faculty members from multipleengineering technology departments are involved to address the multidisciplinary natures of theproject and to develop teaching materials to improve STEM education as a whole. Rubrics toassess the effectiveness of the practice on student’s learning will be developed and compared withexisting ABET’s program criteria in technology education.

Zhang, A. S., & Zia, F., & Heng, I. H., & Berri, S. (2012, June), Utilizing Project-based Multidisciplinary Design Activities to Enhance STEM Education Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22210

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