Interdisciplinary Problem-Based Projects for First-Year Engineering Students

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3 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationASEE 2022 Anual Conference : Excellence through Dicersity
Number of pages17
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
Publication dateAug 2022
Article number37017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022
Event129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: 26 Jun 202229 Jun 2022


Conference129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
SeriesASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

Bibliographical note

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


  • Engineering Education
  • First-year students
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • PBL


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