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Dynamic Modeling and Control: Interdisciplinary Faculty Teamwork and Techniques

[+] Author Affiliations
Robert Rabb, David Chang, John R. Rogers

United States Military Academy, West Point, NY

Paper No. ESDA2008-59195, pp. 607-611; 5 pages
  • ASME 2008 9th Biennial Conference on Engineering Systems Design and Analysis
  • Volume 3: Design; Tribology; Education
  • Haifa, Israel, July 7–9, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: International
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4837-1 | eISBN: 0-7918-3827-7


As the future of engineering education emphasizes more interdisciplinary work and more work performed in teams, one logical starting point for this evolution is for faculty from different academic departments to work together. Engineering educators cannot ignore the real world’s shifting focus to interdisciplinary engineering, and they should adapt as well. Similar to the total engineering process as a team effort, the engineering education process also benefits from excellent communications among a diversity of team members. This paper highlights a classical dynamical modeling and controls course with students from two different disciplines: electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. Faculty from both departments teach every semester. Sections are assigned to individual instructors but all activities are planned jointly. Course administration is the role of a course director and this role alternates between the two departments each semester. Responsibilities throughout the semester are shared between the instructors. This organizational structure is important, allowing the interdisciplinary faculty team to synchronize their efforts, each contributing their individual strengths and resources to promote student learning and faculty development. The instructors engage in meaningful dialogue concerning their assignments, lesson preparations, laboratory exercises, and their results. The information flow between instructors from different departments encourages faculty learning by pushing the instructors beyond their own discipline. This paper provides details that illustrate the structure and benefits of the course. Advantages to empowering an interdisciplinary faculty are also described. The approach described allows the students to benefit from the work of an interdisciplinary faculty team enriching the students’ understanding through real world projects and examples that have aspects of multiple disciplines.



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