Cross-Disciplinary Learning Inspired Through Example

Aerospace Digital Library Courses Index GT course catalog


Georgia Tech's Media Page on Innovations
How Are Innovations Thought Out?

Robotic ‘Semi-Living Artist’

A Sunny Future

Robots Replace Humans

Blue Lasers

Tailored Force Fields

Coming up:

Georgia Tech Students Re-Engineer SUV With Improved Fuel Economy/Emissions Reduction

The Nanoelectronic Road Ahead

A Map for the Electronic Future

Project Description

Cross-Disciplinary Learning Inspired Through Example

Narayanan Komerath and Jeff Davis

Growing out of an effort to teach people to think and solve problems across disciplines, this project addresses the practical obstacle of motivation and experience at the college level - why and how people should learn or take an interest in disciplines outside their own. We try a process where such learning comes naturally. The idea is to use stories of innovation as focal points to encourage a culture of innovation across disciplines.

The dream behind this project is to enable innovators of the future to learn - from the fundamentals to the leading edge, as needed, where needed, regardless of "specialty". This ability will be critical to technology professionals at all levels in a fast-changing marketplace. About a decade of thought and 5 years of experience have gone into the overall project, which we will first summarize below. The resources developed have been in use in GT classes and by students and alumni all over the world, to learn individual disciplines. An AE-based portal of a cross-disciplinary learning resource has been developed with 5 primary customers in mind:

1: Alumnus, 1 year out of school, faced with new assignment with class notes inadequate and texts sold.

2 : Alumna, 10 years out of school. Needs quick review to lead a cross-functional team.

3: Engineer anywhere, any time, who needs to look up material in any other field.

4: Executive deciding on investment in a new technology -seeks basic understanding.

5: Graduate student - needs review of undergrad courses. We adopted the "Aerospace Digital Library" metaphor for this resource, and organized it as indicated below.

Lessons learned include:

· The most valued resources are the basic-level course content modules. Students and alumni, from across the world, find the introductions and in-depth presentations to be precious resources.

· Value is seen in guided access to data and results, and thence to sources of advanced knowledge.

· Linked resources developed from course notes are valued, when concepts are clearly explained.

· The idea of a discipline-specific portal providing access to the rest of the knowledge base has been demonstrated - and is ready for emulation in other disciplines to form a true cross-disciplinary worldwide engineering environment.



Inset: The Aerospace Digital Library Project

Courses to provide basic knowledge, logical exposition Concept Modules for Integration and Guidance Links to Practice; Links to Research. Resources include:

A Learner-centered view of knowledge base; Interactive Site Maps, Digital Libraries, Search Engine. Engineering Course Content : Design-Centered Introduction to Aerospace Engineering; Course content at all levels from high-school through graduate. Resources include direct links to each subdiscipline, and to other engineering and science disciplines. The following resource types were included under each area:

General Businesses Code Technical Theses
Academic Simulations Data Papers Societies



Work Plan:

· Select topics from those highlighted in the GT media. Sources include Research Horizons, the GT Web Site, the Media Relations office, and the COE Report and web site. Topics are chosen for relevance to the undergrad curriculum.

· Develop a website for each story. See evolving list above.

· Create a Knowledge Path for each. These Paths will come from basic courses at the freshman/ sophomore level, all the way to the research leading edge. They will be branched and convoluted since the products are innovative, and will require in-depth venture into reasoning from several disciplines.

· Cross-link the Knowledge Paths for the different stories. Many courses will be common.

· Formalize and write up the process, as experience of usage in courses comes in.