Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Subject: LCSH

Engineering--Study and teaching


Chemical Engineering | Civil and Environmental Engineering | Electrical and Computer Engineering | Engineering Education | Mechanical Engineering | Operations Research, Systems Engineering and Industrial Engineering


To operate effectively in today’s workforce engineers need to have a muti-disciplinary perspective along with substantial disciplinary depth. This broad perspective cannot be achieved by merely taking 2 or 3 engineering courses outside of the major, but rather will require a radical change in the way we educate engineers. The faculty of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of New Haven have developed a new approach: the Multidisciplinary Engineering Foundation Spiral. This curricular model provides the needed mix of breadth and depth, along with the desired professional skills, by providing carefully crafted, well-coordinated curricular experiences in the first two years. The Multidisciplinary Engineering Foundation Spiral is a four semester sequence of engineering courses, matched closely with the development of students’ mathematical sophistication and analytical capabilities and integrated with coursework in the sciences. Students develop a conceptual understanding of engineering basics in a series of courses which stress practical applications of these principles. Topics in these courses include electrical circuits, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, material balances, properties of materials, structural mechanics and thermodynamics. Unlike the traditional approach, however, each of the foundation courses includes a mix of these topics, presented in a variety of disciplinary contexts. A solid background is developed by touching key concepts at several points along the spiral in different courses, adding depth and sophistication at each pass. Each foundation course also stresses the development of several essential skills, such as problem-solving, oral and written communication, the design process, teamwork, project management, computer analysis methods, laboratory investigation, data analysis and model development. Students go on to build substantial depth in some of the foundation areas, while other topics may not be further developed, depending on their chosen discipline. Thus the foundation courses serve both as the basis for depth in disciplinary study and as part of the broad multidisciplinary background. This paper will discuss the design and pedagogical philosophy of the Multidisciplinary Engineering Foundation Spiral and describe several of the novel courses in the program.


© 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference.

Publisher Citation

Daniels, S., Aliane, B., Nocito-Gobel, J., & Collura, M. (2004, June). Development Of A Multidisciplinary Engineering Foundation Spiral Paper presented at 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.