We conduct research in the application of rigorous design methodologies to the design of artifacts and environments for people.


Navigating the barriers to interdisciplinary design education: lessons learned from the NSF design workshop series

Simpson, T.W., Parkinson, M.B., Celento, D., Chen, W., McKenna, A., Colgate, E., Norman, D., Papalambros, P.Y., Gonzalez, R., Roth, B., and Leifer, L., 2010. Proceedings ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences . (BibTeX Citation)

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Evidence suggests that transformational innovation occurs at the intersection of multiple disciplines rather than isolated within them. Design—being both pervasive and inherently interdisciplinary—has the power to transcend many disciplines and help break down the departmental “silos” that hinder such collaborative efforts. Many universities are now struggling to embrace the curricular innovations that are necessary to achieve and sustain interdisciplinary education. Given the already packed undergraduate engineering curricula, several universities have started to offer new design programs that span several disciplines at the masters and doctoral levels. In this paper, we examine the five interdisciplinary graduate design programs offered by three different universities—University of Michigan, Northwestern University, and Stanford University—that hosted the NSF Design Workshop Series in 2008–2009. Collectively, these programs represent “solutions” that span a variety of graduate degree offerings that are available and provide examples of ways to successfully navigate the barriers and hurdles to interdisciplinary design education. A recap of the NSF Design Workshop Series is also provided along with recommendations from the workshops to foster discussion and provide directions for future work.