Multidisciplinary Multilevel Functionally-Managed Student Design in the SAE Mini-Baja Project
2001 Annual Conference Proceedings
In order to heed the call in engineering education to provide richer learning environments, in which engineering students develop critical skills to work effectively on teams with individuals from other fields, we need to encourage development of multidisciplinary, multilevel learning experiences in which students play lead roles. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Mini-Baja competition project at Penn State Altoona is one example of how faculty and students have been addressing this
... addressing this need. The project is structured as a functional organization, with students from many disciplines (engineering, engineering technology, business, English and art) engaged in supporting vehicle design, development and testing efforts. The student team, consisting of freshmen through seniors, are grouped by functional area (vehicle subsystem design, documentation, marketing, fabrication and testing) and coordinated by a "directorate" of upperclassmen. Students earn college credit for some of the activities, but the majority of the effort is on a volunteer basis. The project provides an excellent environment for crossdisciplinary learning, as well as team and project management skill development, and is an efficient way to carry on a major design effort. In addition, the project provides engineering research opportunities for one of the authors. The paper discusses the project organization in detail, and discusses the means and limitations of involving faculty and students from various disciplines in a broad integration of teaching, service to the profession and community, and research.