INFORMAL MULTIDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATIONS: ADDING PERSPECTIVE AND VALUE
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Peter Childs, Stephen Green, Ashley Hall, Aran Dasan
Author: Umstead, Kelly; Moeller, Preston
Institution: North Carolina State University, United States of America
Section: Collaboration and Industrial Involvement in Design and Engineering Education
It is well-accepted that multidisciplinary collaborations produce higher quality product development output than work from singular disciplines. Partnerships between industrial designers and engineers are desirable and ever-present in academic institutions. Though attractive, there are logistical challenges that make these formal relationships time-consuming and complicated. This paper describes an informal collaboration between industrial design students working in conjunction with biomedical engineering students running the Helping Hand Project (HHP), a student-run non-profit organisation that provides children with upper limb prosthetic devices. Industrial design students applied human-centred design methodologies that addressed the needs of children with reduced hand function. Biomedical engineering students acted as a non-profit client and knowledge experts on the topic and were heavily involved throughout the project, but not directly responsible for the final deliverables. A survey was conducted to collect industrial design student’s self-reported assessments on interdisciplinary (interdisciplinary skills, reflective behaviour, and the ability to recognise interdisciplinary). This type of relationship, albeit informal in the current implementation, can be useful for students seeking insights into the working processes of other disciplines as well as understanding professional working relationships. The development of interdisciplinary skills within informal collaborations is the precursors to successful collaboration with outside disciplines.