June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.4.1 - 12.4.11
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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