Collaborative Learning: Working Together Across Disciplines

As a third year bioengineering student at Pitt, most of my time is spent using math and science to solve complex problems and develop cost-effective solutions. I am extremely excited to be a part of the Brackenridge community because of the opportunity to gain new perspectives from students across disciplines. Working with students from other disciplines will allow me to better understand how to present my research to a broad audience. Being able to fully and clearly explain my work to others, especially those who are not familiar with engineering jargon, is a very important skill to master. Over the next few months, I am looking forward to mastering the skills needed to successfully conduct research and learning from students across disciplines to become a more holistic bioengineer. 

In terms of other projects, I have noticed a few similarities between my research and some of the other fellows’ projects in the program. There are also numerous projects that I am not very familiar with, but I am excited to learn more about them in the weeks to come. Regarding my cohort, there is a great deal of diversity among our projects, but the majority of the projects in my specific cohort are STEM related. To name a few, Izza Choudhry is working in the Department of Psychiatry to determine the impact of ADHD risk on the quality of mother and infant interactions. Rebecca Alverez is working in the Department of Biological Sciences to analyze the impact of herbivory on Duckweed performance across genotypes. Christopher Katyal is working in the Department of Emergency Medicine to examine the effect of social media on public knowledge and perception of the SARS-2-CoV pandemic. Ryan Caginalp is working in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Departments to analyze computer memory fault protection from radiation in space.

There are a variety of benefits from working with students across disciplines. Learning to present to a broad audience and receiving new and unique feedback are just a few examples of how working with different individuals can be beneficial. In addition, having people from other disciplines listen to the project can help the presenter better understand which concepts are common knowledge and which points need further explanation. 

Not understanding field specific concepts and verbiage seems to remain one of the biggest challenges among interdisciplinary work. One way to avoid this obstacle is by using more general knowledge to help explain a concept or explaining certain definitions to the audience before talking in depth about the project. Overall, I look forward to learning from the other fellows and working together in the upcoming months. 

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