Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Traditional engineering and science teaching methodology has been to train like-minded students within the discipline of their respective majors. Curriculum time constraints, however, limit the number and nature of out of discipline elective courses. As a result, students are well trained within their respective fields of study but lack the breadth of experience in interacting with other diverse disciplines. Industry, particularly technology-based companies, has observed that solutions to problems have a greater probability of success when all interested parties (purchasing, innovation, marketing, sales, manufacturing, etc.) have input in developing a plan to achieve a desired corporate outcome. It is through this collective action of diverse disciplines that unique solutions are conceived. Many times breakthroughs in innovation and product development occur not through the actions of companies in direct competition but through new entrant companies by modifying technology currently residing in different markets and applications. The breakthrough occurs because the new entrants are not bound by the technology paradigms constraining innovation in their particular market arena. Our goal is to take the diversity lessons gleaned from industry and incorporate them into coursework that creates diverse cross-functional teams such that students learn the benefits of cross-discipline diversity. The College of Business and Technology at ETSU is itself a diverse blend of disciplines (Engineering Technology, Entrepreneurship, Human Nutrition, Marketing, Digital Media, etc) and several graduate and undergraduate courses residing in different departments within the college have intentional programs that encourage cross-discipline enrollment. This action is further facilitated through dual course listings between departments for the same course. Examples of diverse discipline teams will be discussed with attention to outcomes and challenges. Through this diverse cooperative program, students from the technology, business, applied human sciences and digital media disciplines gain a perspective for each other’s expertise and learn to develop teams with diverse skills to meet the increasing challenges for managing business and technology.


Salt Lake City, UT

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© 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. This document was originally published by the American Society for Engineering Education.