Introducing multidisciplinary novel content through laboratory exercises on real-world applications

Robi Polikar, Ravi Ramachandran, Linda Head, Maria Tahamont

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


One of the primary missions of any engineering program is to provide a well-rounded education that combines all fundamental concepts of the given area with an adequate exposure to relevant contemporary areas. However, the exponentially growing body of knowledge - particularly in emerging areas of engineering sciences - makes this mission an increasingly challenging proposition. More novel content from emerging areas need to be integrated into the curriculum to ensure that our students can be successful in today's competitive job market. On the other hand, the economic and political realities of today's academic environment restrict the number of credits a program can require for degree completion. The challenge, then, is to be able to provide as much meaningful and cohesive exposure to emerging / contemporary areas without sacrificing the fundamental background while keeping the credit count minimally effected, or preferably, unchanged. We have previously reported the preliminary assessment of our proposed approach, which consists of reconfiguring a time-honored teaching tool to integrate novel content into existing curriculum. We developed laboratory exercises distributed over the entire four year curriculum, which were integrated into existing core and elective courses. The exercises were designed to provide multidisciplinary novel content in emerging areas that relate to focus areas of existing courses. In our implementation, we use bioengineering/biotechnology (BME) as the multidisciplinary emerging topic area, and electrical/computer engineering (ECE) as the core curriculum. Since our initial report two years ago, which was based on a couple of experiments, we have developed several new laboratory exercises, and more importantly followed students who went through the four years of integrated BME content. In this paper, we present our implementation and assessment details, and some surprising outcomes we have observed since our previous preliminary assessment. We discuss many advantages, but also some potential pitfalls of this approach, along with lessons learned along the way.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2007
Event114th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2007 - Honolulu, HI, United States
Duration: Jun 24 2007Jun 27 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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