Exploring the Moral Differences, Between Industrial Design, Engineering and Entrepreneurship Students


Interdisciplinary teams, communication, design education, interdisciplinary education, product design


Over the last two years our industrial design programme has been involved in a number of interdisciplinary team projects. We have observed that in successful teams, the education and skills of team members matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work and view their contributions. We believe that there are distinct and innate differences between students in different academic disciplines when it comes to moral positions and these differences in worldview inherently causes friction in interdisciplinary teams. Consequently, we feel that if students could understand these differences extrinsically, they could potentially improve their experience within their interdisciplinary team work. We ran a pilot study with students from Brigham Young University comparing the industrial design, engineering and entrepreneurship majors using The Moral Foundations Questionnaire (Graham, Haidt & Nosek, 2008) This survey measures five facets of one’s moral position: Care/Harm, Fairness/Reciprocity, In-group/Loyalty, Authority/Respect and Sanctity/Purity. Results show that designers scored higher in liberal values than their more conservative leaning engineering and business student counterparts. These results support our hypothesis. Understanding the fundamental value differences between disciplinary training should reduce friction and enhance interdisciplinary team communication. This ability to appreciate other mindsetsin order to communicate and effectively design with individuals from differing disciplines will be an “essential skill for workers in the coming decades” (Colombo and Grilli, 2005).

Original Publication Citation

Hamilton, M., & Howell, B. (2019). Exploring the Moral Differences between Industrial Design, Engineering and Entrepreneurship Students. Conference proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education; Towards a New Innovation Landscape, (E&PDE19), Glasgow, UK, September 11-13.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


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Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor