Intercultural, reciprocal and multidisciplinary learning case study

L. Saarikoski, S. Lautamäki, H. R. Kaufmann, D. S. Bengoa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Engineers often work in multi-disciplinary and multicultural teams in the modern globalized working place. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to understand the different mindset of colleagues coming from other professional fields than engineering and their different cultures in order to create a high- performing team based on intercultural competence (Kaufmann, Englezou and Garcia-Gallego, 2014). The current highly competitive business environment demands a more holistic and cross-functional way of thinking and working. Therefore, engineering students need, for example, also marketing skills more than ever before to understand customer value creation. In the same vein, it is beneficial for business students to understand the engineering mindset for optimizing working relationships and customer centricity. Thus new educational methods are being needed both in the engineering and business education. It has been noticed that authentic learning experiences produce good learning results. The implication would be that real life business situations should be used as cases while designing learning tasks in engineering education. At the same time, universities should also support the development of the operations of the local companies. Universities have become more international and attracted foreign students but often their cultural diversity potential could be better utilized and synergized with those of the local students. This empirical paper describes the integration of two Finnish BSc courses, one from the engineering faculty, and the other, from the multicultural business faculty during years 2014 and 2015. The aim of the two project based learning projects was threefold: first, to develop the students' diversity management skills and second, to increase the export marketing skills of the engineering students and third, to innovate new business models for a local company. The time span was within an intensive one week period. Students who came from mechanical engineering and international business degree programs were assigned into cross-disciplinary and multicultural teams and a local company provided them a case task related to export marketing of their technical product to be solved during the intensive workshop week. Findings of the qualitative learning experiments will be presented. Conclusions as to integrate diversity management at the university level and suggestions for the development of the engineering curriculum will be provided.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 43rd SEFI Annual Conference 2015 - Diversity in Engineering Education
Subtitle of host publicationAn Opportunity to Face the New Trends of Engineering, SEFI 2015
PublisherEuropean Society for Engineering Education (SEFI)
ISBN (Electronic)9782873520120
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event43rd SEFI Annual Conference 2015, SEFI 2015 - Orleans, France
Duration: 29 Jun 20152 Jul 2015


Other43rd SEFI Annual Conference 2015, SEFI 2015


  • Engineering
  • Intercultural learning
  • Multidisciplinary

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    Saarikoski, L., Lautamäki, S., Kaufmann, H. R., & Bengoa, D. S. (2015). Intercultural, reciprocal and multidisciplinary learning case study. In Proceedings of the 43rd SEFI Annual Conference 2015 - Diversity in Engineering Education: An Opportunity to Face the New Trends of Engineering, SEFI 2015 European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI).