The traditional undergraduate engineering education focuses on single disciplines e.g., chemical, civil, computer, electrical, electronics, and mechanical engineering. This disciplinary focus is primarily responsible for the familiar departmental structures at engineering institutions. In an earlier era, the disciplinary focus served the engineering students and faculty well. With technological advancements in manufacturing, information, communication, and transportation technologies reshaping the society in unparalleled ways, engineering education is facing unprecedented challenges. In a global, competitive marketplace, consumers demand highly sophisticated products driving design innovation, enhanced functionality, and shorter life cycles in products. These dynamics point to an acute need for training engineering students in cooperative, active-learning environments with students from diverse educational backgrounds.

Engineering Curricula and Educational Paradigms Remain Virtually Stagnant
The boundaries created by the disciplinary focus in engineering education continue to hinder interdisciplinary interactions. As a result, engineers are becoming narrowly specialized and they cannot communicate with one another. Engineering educators are becoming increasingly aware of these issues. However, their halfhearted measures such as electrical engineering and mechanical engineering students taking the first mechanics course and circuits course, respectively, do not succeed in meeting the challenge of a true interdisciplinary education.

Engineering Curriculum Reform
Recognizing the challenges and opportunities inherent in interdisciplinary engineering education, beginning with year 2000, NYU Tandon School of Engineering undertook a major reform of its undergraduate curriculum through the Curriculum 2000 initiative. A key innovation of Curriculum 2000 is the opportunity afforded to students to freely select, across-disciplines, a two-course university sequence to suit their interests. Guidelines for developing university sequences are:

  1. provide a broadening and interdisciplinary educational experience;
  2. include projects involving multidisciplinary student groups;
  3. incorporate real-world design guided by engineering standards and realistic constraints;
  4. require formal written and oral report