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Engineering Design Case Studies: Effective And Sustainable Development Methods

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

DEED Potpourri

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.480.1 - 15.480.13



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Paper Authors

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Oscar Nespoli University of Waterloo

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Steve Lambert University of Waterloo

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

Engineering Design Case Studies: Effective and Sustainable Development Methods


Case studies and the case method of teaching and learning have demonstrated pedagogical benefits. Sustaining the effective and efficient development of cases requires strategies and methods that are proven and systematic.

Waterloo Cases in Design Engineering (WCDE) is a unique program to enhance design engineering education by converting student co-op work term reports into case studies and implementing them across all courses in the Faculty of Engineering curriculum. Cases have been implemented successfully, and show promise in addressing and demonstrating new Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) graduate attribute requirements. The case method also shows promise in integrating these required attributes by expressing real situations encountered in practice and allowing individual students and student teams to experience realistic challenges in a classroom setting.

In addition to developing cases from work term reports, cases have been developed from student capstone project experiences, Master of Engineering (MEng) design project experiences, and directly from the experiences of our industry partners. The development strategies and methods used to ensure effective and timely development of cases varies depending on the source used.

This paper describes the development methods used to successfully develop sustainable sources of engineering design case studies, and offers lessons-learned perspectives from our development and implementation experiences.


Waterloo Cases in Design Engineering (WCDE) was established with the support of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), General Motors of Canada Limited (GMCL) and the University of Waterloo (UW) to enhance the teaching and learning of engineering design in all courses across the entire Faculty of Engineering.

Case studies and specifically the case method of learning have demonstrated pedagogical benefits as proven mechanisms to capture real engineering experiences for use in a university environment [1]. Case studies continue to be used in engineering curricula, particularly as case histories featuring notable failures [2]. Case study programs have been established at several universities to date, but none have been as prevalent as programs that have been established at business schools, for example. We believe this can be addressed by ensuring that both the sources and development methods for the case studies be effective and sustainable.

As an exclusively co-op engineering school, UW engineering students generate over 4000 work term reports per year. This represents a large sustainable source of student engineering experience that can be used for the development of design case studies. This established linkage

Nespoli, O., & Lambert, S. (2010, June), Engineering Design Case Studies: Effective And Sustainable Development Methods Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16420

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