Building collaborative teams for multi-disciplinary educational projects in optoelectronics
Multidisciplinary team-oriented research is an effective method for investigating systems spanning multiple knowledge areas. Building on cross-functional team strategies developed for highly competitive industries, experts from a variety of technical domains can be brought together in a team and focused toward a common set of goals. However, building and maintaining these teams is an art that combines technical, social, and management skills, and requires proactive, conscious attention to enable and achieve positive results. This paper explores some avenues toward effective multi-disciplinary team building, and explores the educational potential associated with team-oriented research. The first step in team research is to identify an appropriate technical topic and to build a team around the technical areas associated with that topic. Consensus building is a key aspect to successful team research, as is the goal that every team member achieves research sub-goals as part of the larger effort. Team researchers optimally have a willingness to act in a cooperative rather than competitive fashion with team members, initially communicate with minimal jargon, meet regularly with other team members, share resources, and be personally responsible for their portions of the project. Additional strategies include recognizing and appreciating myriad levels of diversity in the group, valuing the cross disciplinary education of team members, inserting new technology when appropriately mature, and setting timelines and resource allocation using a consensus approach. Multi-disciplinary teams can address problems which are higher in complexity than those addressed by individuals, yet also offer the leveraging, and time and funding buffering that is so important in shortening research time cycles.
Jokerst, NM; Brooke, MA; Laskar, J; Wills, DS; Brown, AS; Ingram, MA
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