Interdisciplinary Problem-Based Projects for First-Year Engineering Students

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This research paper presents an interdisciplinary project setting for first-year engineering students. A theoretical frame of reference is suggested to support curriculum design for interdisciplinary competences in engineering education. Empirically, the study draws on insights from a narrow interdisciplinary curriculum project named “leadENG”. Besides being significant on its own in terms of learning outcomes within faculty borders, the leadENG project is intended to act as a bridge-building project to prepare students for broader cross-faculty projects. This study follows a second semester cluster of groups from energy and materials and production, all working together on the creation of a sustainable vehicle using recycled materials. Data have been collected through three explorative qualitative interviews with 15 students and 4 observations with the entire group of 35 students. Interview data have been transcribed and thematically analyzed in NVivo. Findings indicate that students found the new narrow interdisciplinary setting highly relevant in expanding their understanding and approaches to sustainability and interdisciplinarity. Students experienced having a better and deeper understanding of their own discipline by weighing it up against another discipline and could see the meaning and dependency of contributions and collaboration with the other project groups. Although students still experienced different challenges and difficulties, this study indicates that narrow interdisciplinary projects combining different fields of engineering disciplines in a system perspective can be fruitful in the progression of students' broader interdisciplinary competences.

TitelASEE 2022 Anual Conference : Excellence through Dicersity
Antal sider17
ForlagAmerican Society for Engineering Education
Publikationsdatoaug. 2022
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2022
Begivenhed129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022 - Minneapolis, USA
Varighed: 26 jun. 202229 jun. 2022


Konference129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022
NavnASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This work is part of the research project InterPBL, a research project aimed at developing innovative educational models to educate engineers to work proactively and interactively in an interdisciplinary work environment. It has been funded by The Poul Due Jensen Foundation. With a design-based approach to curriculum development, this substudy of the InterPBL project serves to highlight explorative data on interdisciplinary collaboration. The authors would like to give special thanks to the supervisors and students from energy and materials and production at Aalborg University for their time and effort given to this study.

Funding Information:
Anette Kolmos is Professor in Engineering Education and PBL, Director for the UNESCO category 2 Centre: Aalborg Centre for Problem Based Learning in Engineering Science and Sustainability. She was Chair holder for UNESCO in Problem Based Learning in Engineering Education, Aalborg University, Denmark, 2007-2014. Guest professor at KTH Royal Institute of Technology 2012-2017. President of SEFI 2009–2011 (European Society for Engineering Education). Founding Chair of the SEFI-working group on Engineering Education Research. Was awarded the IFEES Global Award for Excellence in Engineering Education, 2013 and the SEFI fellowship in 2015. During the last 20 years, Dr. Kolmos has researched the following areas, primarily within Engineering Education: gender and technology, project based and problem-based curriculum (PBL), change from traditional to project organized and problem-based curriculum, development of transferable skills in PBL and project work, and methods for staff development. She is Associate Editor for the European Journal of Engineering Education. She has been supervising more than 20 PhD students and has more than 310 publications. She has been member of several organizations and committees within EER, national government bodies, and committees in the EU.

Publisher Copyright:
© American Society for Engineering Education, 2022.


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