Interdisciplinary engineering education - practice based case

Ville Taajamaa1, Tomi Westerlund1, Guo Xing2, Maija Hupli1, Sanna Salanterä1, Tapio Salakoski1
1University of Turku, 2Fudan University


Multiple disciplines approach including interdisciplinarity has been discussed in the engineering education context from the early 21st Century [1]. There is very little disagreement about its importance for the engineers. The key question has been how? How to implement theory into practice both in the curriculum and in the actual learning enhancement phase? Both Problem-based learning [2] and CDIO framework [1] are constructivist learning approaches [3] that emphasize these issues. In this paper, we discuss and elaborate some of the learning results of two interdisciplinary master´s level student teams that were structurally organized as Capstone project courses [4]. The course projects were ill-defined and open-ended. The coaching for students was organized from the departments of Information Technology and Nursing Science. Students that participated in the project represented 3 higher education institutions and 8 disciplines. The disciplines were nursing science, engineering, sustainable development, computer science, social science, educational science, business and administration as well as from futures studies. Altogether there were fifteen (15) students in this study. The results show that in a teamwork and problem oriented and project based setting [5] the learning of professional skills of the students can be enhanced both at the team and the individual level. This is, however, not always the case and the possible reasons for this will be discussed. case and the possible reasons for this will be discussed.