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This paper presents an initiative and a strategy to teach product design to students in different engineering technology fields through cross departmental collaboration and cooperation between faculty members in the Mechanical Engineering Technology and the Computer Engineering Technology Departments. The work is funded by the National Science Foundation Advanced Technology Education Division (Award No. DUE-1003712) recently awarded to New York City College of Technology. Traditional approach to teach product design in a college setting was mostly confined by disciplinary boundaries. There were very little or no collaborations among various engineering departments. Advances in computer technology and semiconductor electronics have created a new product design field called mechatronics. Mechatronics treats product design as system design that requires the tight integration of mechanical components, electrical/electronic systems, industrial design ideas, computer-control systems, embedded systems, and intelligent software into the product design and development processes. Most of the products now being developed are mechatronics in nature. To help students to understand the multidisciplinary nature of the product design, various hands-on product design projects have been developed by the faculty members in the two engineering departments. Students from four different fields of the two departments (mechanical engineering technology, industrial design technology, electromechanical engineering technology and computer engineering technology) have been involved in these projects. Students are divided into design teams. Each design team consists of students from different fields. Joint class sessions are being held and taught by faculties from the two departments at different stages of the design project. Students started to gain important experience in team work, time management, and collaboration and cooperation through various design activities. This concurrent engineering and mechatronic design approach, which emphasizes team collaboration, has become the new industry standard in product design and development. Students were given specific mechatronic/robotic design projects that required them to use actual mechanical, electrical/electronic hardware and software that are being currently used by the industry. This enable the instructor to simulate actual product design activities occurred in the industry. Not only were students exposed to the latest mechatronic technology, they also learn the concurrent engineering design approach in the process. Students were provided with a framework of fundamental design knowledge with hands-on cross-disciplinary activities that allow them to develop an interdisciplinary understanding and integrated approach to product design. Through these hands-on activities, students will also learn the concept of product lifecycle management and sharpen their teamwork skills.


Heng, I., & Zhang, A. S., & Zia, F. (2011, June), New Approach to Teach Product Design that Breaks the Disciplinary Boundaries Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18637, © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education.



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