Reflections on Multidisciplinary Teamwork: From Experience to Impact

Krita Liguori, Molly Eckman, and Khanjan Mehta

International Journal for Service Learning in Engineering, Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship, Special Edition on University Engineering Programs That Impact Communities: Critical Analyses and Reflections,

Liguori, K., Eckman, M., Mehta, K.,International Journal for Service Learning in Engineering, Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship, Special Edition on University Engineering Programs That Impact Communities: Critical Analyses and Reflections, pp. 283 – 299, “Reflections on Multidisciplinary Teamwork: From Experience to Impact,”  Fall 2014

Abstract

The Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program at Penn State engages students and faculty across the university in rigorous research, design, field-testing, and launch of technology-based social enterprises. The complex nature of the real-world problems tackled by HESE ventures requires engagement from students and faculty across the university. Such interdisciplinary teamwork is fraught with issues stemming from differing academic traditions, vocabularies, communication, work habits, and most importantly, philosophies of entrepreneurial engagement in developing countries. This reflection article, based on interviews with 22 highly engaged students and recent alumni, provides a candid reflection on the structures and practices within the HESE program that facilitate or, at times, impede multidisciplinary teamwork.The methods and approaches described in this article are not best practices. Rather, they are simply practices and lessons learned that have emerged over time, and continue to evolve, as students and faculty in HESE march forward on their learning, research and entrepreneurial engagement continuum.
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