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3 Phase Multi Subject Project Based Learning As A Didactical Method In Automotive Engineering Studies

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Introducing Active and Inductive Learning and Improving the Learning Curve in ME

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.4.1 - 12.4.11

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Paper Authors


Emilia Bratschitsch Joanneum University of Applied Sciences, Department of Automotive

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Emilia Bratschitsch is head of the Department of Vehicle Technologies (Automotive and Railway Engineering) and teaches Electrics, Electronics and Methods of Signal Processing at the University of Applied Sciences Joanneum in Graz (Austria). She is also a visiting lecturer at the Faculty of Transport of the Technical University of Sofia (Bulgaria). She graduated with a degree in Medical Electronics as well in Technical Journalism from the TU of Sofia and received her PhD from the Technical University of Graz (Austria). She gained industrial experience in automation of control systems, engineering of electronic control systems and software development. Her R&D activities comprise design of signal processing and data analysis methods, modelling, simulation and control of automotive systems as well as Engineering Education.

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Annette Casey Joanneum University of Applied Sciences, Department of Automotive Engineering,

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Annette Casey is an English language trainer in the Department of Automotive Engineering, Joanneum University of Applied Sciences. She graduated from Dublin City University with a degree in Applied Languages (Translation and Interpreting) in 1991. She has been teaching business and technical English both in industry and at university level in Austria for the past 12 years.

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Günter Bischof Joanneum University of Applied Sciences, Department of Automotive Engineering,

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Throughout his career, Dr. Günter Bischof has combined his interest in science and engineering application. He studied physics at the University of Vienna, Austria, and acquired industry experience as development engineer at Siemens Corporation. Currently he teaches engineering mathematics in the Department of Automotive Engineering, Joanneum University of Applied Sciences, and conducts research in automotive engineering and materials sciences.

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Domagoj Rubesa Joanneum University of Applied Sciences, Department of Automotive Engineering,

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Domagoj Rubeša teaches Engineering Mechanics and Strength of Materials at the University of Applied Sciences Joanneum in Graz (Austria) and is also associated professor in the field of Material Sciences at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Rijeka (Croatia). He graduated as naval architect from the Faculty of Engineering in Rijeka and received his master’s degree from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and his PhD from the University of Leoben (Austria). He has industrial experience in a Croatian shipyard and in the R&D dept. of an Austrian supplier of racing car motor components. He also was a research fellow at the Univ. of Leoben in the field of engineering ceramics. His interests include Mechanical Behaviour of Materials and in particular Fracture and Damage Mechanics and Fatigue, as well as Engineering Education.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

3-Phase Multi Subject Project Based Learning as a Didactical Method in Automotive Engineering Studies


Modern life requires a faster transfer of information and shorter education courses while at the same time supposing a higher quality of specialized and soft skills from young academics. Companies expect young engineers not only to be able to apply theoretical knowledge in practice, use the appropriate tools, work autonomously, but also to be able to work in teams, and to present engineering results clearly and impressively.

For the past nine years, we have been applying Project Based Learning (PBL) in three distinct phases as a didactical method within the degree course’s curriculum in the department of Automotive Engineering. The main task is to motivate the students to apply theoretical knowledge in practice as soon as possible. The young engineers not only deepen their specialized knowledge but they also develop real systems and design industrial products.

The first phase of this multi subject PBL begins in the first academic year and encompasses the second and third semesters. A set of project topics is defined, based on the subject "Information Systems and Programming", with an emphasis on ANSI C and numerical methods of calculation. To solve the tasks the students usually need information from subjects such as mathematics, mechanics, fluid mechanics, machine dynamics, measurement engineering, electrics, electronics, and strength of materials. The entire project – from task description to project presentation – is done in English, which is not the students’ native language. The students work in teams of three or four. Generally, more than two groups develop the required software solution to generate a competitive environment. At the end of the semester we rank the projects and nominate a winning team.

The second phase of the multi subject PBL starts in the sixth semester. The tasks either come directly from the automotive industry or are modeled on real-life engineering problems, which the students have to solve using professional tools.

The third phase is carried out in the seventh semester during an internship in companies in the automotive segment. The main focus is set on practical training and the direct application of both the special and soft skills in the professional world.

This paper concentrates on the description of the first phase of the multi subject PBL and reports on our excellent experiences using this method. As early as their second academic year, we can show that our students are able to develop new innovative methods of calculation and software programs that have been internationally recognized.

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