Integrated 2D design in the curriculum: Effectiveness of early cross-subject engineering challenges

Kevin Otto, Bradley Adam Camburn, K.L. Wood, G. Nannicini, Roland Bouffanais, Elica S. Kyoseva, Jean W. H. Yong, Robert E. Simpson, Aditya P. Mathur

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Multidisciplinary engineering design is difficult in the undergraduate years. It is particularly so in the early Freshman and Sophomore years, since the students have not enrolled in a breadth of subjects. Multidisciplinary problems are often left to latter years, thereby leaving the students with an incomplete picture of how course subject matters relate and fit in a larger view of engineering and design. A novel approach to multi-disciplinary engineering education was instituted in the Freshman and Sophomore years at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. During a particular term, all courses simultaneously attacked a common design problem. The courses stopped coursework for one dedicated week and instead simultaneously worked on the design challenge problem engaging the subject matter of those courses. Herein this is referred to as the 2D design challenge, where the design problem is multidisciplinary, but exclusively restricted to the domains of the courses being taught. This research effort finds that the approach generated highly effective learning on the multidisciplinary nature of design problems. Results also include a statistically significant impact on student perceptions of their ability to solve multidisciplinary design problems. As an example, courses in biology, thermodynamics, differential equations, and software with controls were merged in a design challenge problem of developing a perishable food delivery system composed of unrefrigerated unmanned ground vehicles. It is recommended that successful 2D challenges require instructors to establish a-priori a chain of requirements linking the design activity in each course. Effective execution of a 2D design challenge ensures that the design problem has co-dependent requirements from each discipline. These requirements cannot be independently determined in isolation. This then allows for creative interdisciplinary solutions to be developed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
ISBN (Electronic)2153-5868
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventASEE Annual Conference - Indianapolis, United States
Duration: 15 Jun 201418 Jun 2014
Conference number: 121


ConferenceASEE Annual Conference
CountryUnited States

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    Otto, K., Camburn, B. A., Wood, K. L., Nannicini, G., Bouffanais, R., Kyoseva, E. S., Yong, J. W. H., Simpson, R. E., & Mathur, A. P. (2014). Integrated 2D design in the curriculum: Effectiveness of early cross-subject engineering challenges. In ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings American Society for Engineering Education.