Interdisciplinary engineering programs have many perceived benefits including developing broader skills and an ability to work with complex real-life problems. However, the development of interdisciplinary programs faces many challenges including how to balance breadth and depth, how to integrate interdisciplinary learning into existing studies and how to work across university structures. In the development work and in communicating interdisciplinarity, T-, Y- and Pi-shaped visualisations are often used. We develop an improved model by using biomimetic analogy from genetics to aid in interdisciplinary curriculum planning. We map analogies between how genes and chromosomes act in the evolution of species and how similar mechanisms can aid in evolving curricula. We identify threegenetic mechanisms to include interdisciplinarity in the curriculum: mutations as unplanned changes, DNA inserts as modular curriculum structures, and crossing chromosomes as cross-disciplinary programs. We use examples from two universities to detail how this analogy helps to reframe curriculum planning.
- analogical mapping
- engineering education