Robin S. Adams
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2045, USA
San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182, USA
Swinburne University, Hawthorn, VIC 3122, Australia
University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
Every day engineers are confronted with complex grand challenges. Grand challenges related to natural disasters represent a class of complex problems that require working across multiple disciplines and involve not just solving the immediate problem but designing long-term sustainable systems. In this paper, we present exploratory work to characterize students’ ability to formulate cross-disciplinary problems for a complex, contextualized, and cross-disciplinary disaster relief scenario. This includes a description of the study implemented in three global contexts, data collection, analysis, and results including a discussion of the utility of the scenario tool to distinguish group differences. The paper concludes with implications for research, instruction, and assessment.