Interdisciplinarity is a key to enhance the product development process - how students deal with it and how they evolve with it

DS 76: Proceedings of E&PDE 2013, the 15th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Dublin, Ireland, 05-06.09.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: John Lawlor, Ger Reilly, Robert Simpson, Michael Ring, Ahmed Kovacevic, Mark McGrath, William Ion, David Tormey, Erik Bohemia, Chris McMahon, Brian Parkinson
Author: Gerber, Paul; Krebber, Sönke; Langer, Ingmar; Röbig, Sinja; Sprenger, Susanne; Stocker, André
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: TU Darmstadt, Germany; 2: University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt, Germany
Section: Multidisciplinarity
Page(s): 593-598
ISBN: 978-1-904670-42-1


Interdisciplinary work is gaining attention not only in the academic landscape. Even at University where many different disciplines coexist in a minimum amount of space, the interdisciplinary work was used too seldom in the past. In order to teach the graduates the required competences regarding teamwork and project work, but also to fulfil interdisciplinarity needs, the collaborative Advanced Design Project (cADP) was integrated into the curriculum at Technische Universität Darmstadt. The cADP is based on a mandatory group work for mechanical engineering students, where engineering problems must be solved together according to the principle of minimal help. The focus of this mandatory project is not only on the problem solving process, but also in training and reflection of group processes. This project has been extended in such a way, that interdisciplinary teams of students of mechanical engineering with a focus on product development, ergonomics and computer aided techniques work on a product development project task together with students of psychology and industrial design. This new form of interdisciplinary team work of students was called cADP. The cADP focuses on the early stages of the computer aided development of ergonomic- and designoriented products from the very first idea to building a virtual prototype up to a design and functional prototype and evaluating this one. Products should be designed using discipline typical methods, but with the use of synergy effects of the interdisciplinary team. In the following the experiences of students in the cADP project will be described; what are the main challenges of working together with other disciplines and how can there found a way to deal with it. For this purpose student questionnaires were analyzed. Furthermore it will be shown how the quality of the products increases through interdisciplinary cooperation. For this purpose classic group work results are compared with the results of cADP groups.

Keywords: Interdisciplinarity, student teams, engineering, ergonomics, design, psychology


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