(73d) Incorporating Interdisciplinarity and Diversity to Maximize Engineering Learning Objectives
AIChE Annual Meeting
Monday, November 14, 2016 - 8:51am to 9:08am
The student body of undergraduate engineering programs typically has a monolithic demographic. Women and underrepresented group still make up a fraction of engineering programs, which can result in feelings of isolation and lack of acceptance among peer groups. There is a desperate need for a more pluralistic learning experience within engineering classes. For example, many capstone design projects focus on projects that only require technical expertise in one engineering discipline. We hypothesize that multidisciplinary teams of engineers can team together to work on projects based in the arts. In our pilot study, a team of engineers partnered with ballerinas from the Dance Theatre of Harlem to create a technology that would assist dancer effectiveness. The team was comprised of 4 students, half of which were women and were a combination of biomedical engineering and computer science majors. The project sponsor, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, is a predominately African American dance troop. After almost 6 months, the multi-disciplinary engineering team, in collaboration with the ballerinas, developed a wearable technology and smart phone application that aids a dancer in training and injury prevention. The technical expertise required to develop such a technology necessitated undergraduate teams communicate effectively across technical disciplines, as well as engaging with a non-technical project sponsor to achieve a product that would be effective. This study provides best practices for creating these cross-disciplinary, diverse teams and presents success metrics that meet pre-determined learning objectives and ensures a successful project outcome.