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Work in Progress: Starting Multidisciplinary Product Development Teams: Insights from Industry and Academia

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Design I

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Louise Rosanna Manfredi Syracuse University

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Dr. Manfredi holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (2011) and a BDes in Product Design (2006) from the University of Leeds, UK.

Dr. Manfredi’s primary research interest centers on sustainable product development, and how the decisions designers and engineers make affect the environment during the life cycle of these products. She is particularly focused on the development of sustainable/environmentally conscious toolkit which give future designers access to cutting-edge techniques in product development and manufacture.

Louise is also interested in the assessment and development of environmentally conscious materials in the prototyping phase of product development.

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To design a successful consumer product, a diverse team of experts from various disciplines is typically required. These disciplines bring unique insights into the product development process and can be key to creating innovative output. Working in these teams can be challenging, especially if technical language and ideal outcomes are not routinely communicated to the whole team.

This work-in-progress paper examines an industry multi-disciplinary engineering design team. Specifically, this study investigates the communication channels between industrial design interns and an engineering team at an aerospace company in California. Members of this team ( ) were interviewed to record their experiences during this three-month project. At this initial research stage, methods of communication used, how effectively they communicated with each other, and what was learned about different design methodologies was captured.

The purpose of this study was twofold as we sought to satisfy questions from the industrial and the academic perspectives. From the industrial viewpoint; what skills can industrial design bring to an engineering company to elevate its design practices, and academically, how might we prepare undergraduate engineers and industrial designers to work on these teams and facilitate an integrative approach to product development?

A grounded theory approach was utilized to extract repeated ideas and themes from these interview transcripts which can be used in further studies of this nature to generate testable hypotheses. In addition to discussing the merits of this data analysis approach and the key insights that were gleaned, this work-in-progress paper provides recommendations to preempt unclear communication for newly formed multi-disciplinary teams.

Manfredi, L. R. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Starting Multidisciplinary Product Development Teams: Insights from Industry and Academia Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33648

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