2. Ability to work in interdisciplinary environments
Advantages of working interdisciplinary
A university research team obtained financial support to implement a European project in the field of advance and innovative materials.
The research team includes 2 young researchers with skills in structural and morphological characterization, a teacher with over 30 years of teaching experience and skills in mechanical behaviour of materials, a professor of electronic engineering, 2 experienced physicists and 2 women chemists.
Only one member of this team has previously participated in such a project, 4 years ago. Since then, technology has changed and all team members felt the disadvantage of experimenting with new technologies. Thus, the team leader organised a first meeting to discuss and decide the implementation details of the project. Prior to the meeting, he shared the accepted funding application with all members, so that they can analyse it and understand the project.
At this first meeting each member asked questions:
- The teacher with extensive teaching experience asked: what are the stages of the project, what are our roles in the project?
- The 2 young researchers asked: what are the parameters of data acquisition?
- The physicists asked: what phenomena underlie the experiments we need to perform?
- The electronic engineer asked: what monitoring systems can we purchase for data acquisition?
- The chemists asked: what is the available date we have about precursors and temperatures during the experiments?
The project manager realized from their questions that the team members, having different competencies and professional expertise, are focused solely on their individual role without seeing the ‘whole picture’ of the project. They did not understand that they must act as a unit, working interdisciplinary, putting in common their different professional competencies and completing each-other to reach the project goals.
The project manager has provided explanations, initiated discussions, answered team members’ questions making clear to everybody that different competencies and expertise will be put together through collaboration, in order to benefit of the experience and professional knowledge from every and each member.
During the experiments performed to achieve the scientific research, all the team specialists did their job excellently, completing each-other, proving their abilities to analyse the phenomena, to use the substances, to monitor and measure the parameters of the experiment, to collect and process data, to analyse the findings and results.
In the assessment of the project, all implemented activities received very good grades and the project manager emphasized on the importance of the team interdisciplinarity, mentioning that without the contribution of all team members – each specialised in a certain area/discipline, the project could not have been successful and that working in an interdisciplinary way was the main factor that ensured the success of the project.
2. Ability to work in interdisciplinary environments
2.2. Interdisciplinary teams
What does it mean to have the ability to work within interdisciplinary teams
The pandemic situation required new devices needed in large numbers in hospitals to ensure assisted pulmonary ventilation of COVID patients.
Thus, in the Muntenia region, Romania, a core team of researchers was created to design an innovative medical device to assisted pulmonary ventilation of Covid patients. For its use in hospitals, the device needed approval of the Ministry of Health. Researchers from the University of Pitești, from the largest car manufacturer in the country – Dacia Renault, from a software solutions development company, from a home appliance manufacturer, have come together in an interdisciplinary team able to develop the next innovative device to save human lives.
The different roles and contribution in the interdisciplinary team were as follows:
– the researchers from university, specialized in mechanics and medical electronics, designed the electrical circuits and the mechanical parts;
– the researches from the car manufacturer dealt with the creation of mechanical parts by 3D printing techniques;
– the researchers from the software company developed the software programming of the electronic equipment and interface;
– the researchers from home appliance manufacturer provided the workspace and the necessary consumables, developed the necessary technique for assembling the components made by the other researchers.
During the development of the prototype of the innovative device, the whole team performed tests and continuously oppressed the components so that the device is compatible with the human body.
Because there was a need for medical validation, to the initial team were joined pulmonologists who were able to provide information on lung function and to report upon the need for ventilation for the treatment of COVID patients. Thus, the different competency & experience of researchers able to work in an interdisciplinary environment seeking to achieve a common goal, has led to the creation of a medical prototype so necessary for the treatment of sick people in severe crisis condition in hospitals.
Without the ability of the researchers to work in an interdisciplinary team and without the complementarity of their individual professional skills, the effort to develop the necessary impetuous equipment would have been in vain.