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Learning about others: Developing an interdisciplinary approach in design education

Kaygan, Pınar
Demir, Özümcan
Recently we witness a rising interest in interdisciplinary collaboration in both industrial design and engineering education. Since developing technology and innovation invites more complex design problems that are usually beyond the professional skills and competences of a single person, learning how to work in interdisciplinary teams becomes a central concern within the undergraduate programs of these fields. With the aim of contributing to interdisciplinary design education, this paper explores a fourweek extra-curricular education activity called Interdisciplinary Design Studio (IDS) that was carried out at Middle East Technical University. The empirical data comes from the accounts of the students who participated in the IDS, from the Departments of Industrial Design, Architecture, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Computer Engineering, Industrial Engineering and Business Administration, who came together in six interdisciplinary teams to develop innovative products following the stages of a design process. Drawing on their accounts the paper seeks to answer two questions: First, how and in what ways students learned about other disciplines; and second, to what extent and how these learning experiences shape their approaches towards developing ways to collaborate with people (both tutors and students) from other disciplines.