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Industrial Internships: The Final Part Of A Three Phase Multisubject Experiment In Project Based Learning In Vehicle Technology Studies

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Design Projects in Mechanical Engineering II

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.733.1 - 14.733.10



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Paper Authors


Emilia Bratschitsch Joanneum University of Applied Sciences

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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 Technical University 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, modeling, simulation and control of automotive systems as well as Engineering Education.

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Adrian Millward-Sadler Joanneum University of Applied Sciences

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Adrian Millward-Sadler is an English language trainer in the Department of Automotive Engineering, at the Joanneum University of Applied Sciences in Graz. He graduated with a joint honours degree in German and Russian languages from the Victoria University of Manchester in 1998 and completed his Master degree in European Languages and Culture at the same institution in 2000. Since completing his teaching qualification in the same year, he has taught English variously in Spain, Greece, Prague and Graz both in the private and university sectors, as well as having worked in private language school management. He has been teaching in the department for 3 years with interests in language acquisition and Engineering Education.

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

Industrial Internships: The Final Part of a 3-Phase Multi Subject Project Based Learning in Vehicle Technology Studies


The main goal of engineering education is praxis oriented learning. At previous ASEE conferences we presented the first and the second phase of our 3-phase multi subject didactical method as integrative parts of the degree program Vehicle Technology. The first part of the 3-phase method helps sophomores learn to work autonomously, but also to be able to work in teams, and to present engineering results clearly and impressively. The second phase starts in the third academic year and the students center on design, assembling and testing of a real racing car. They have to manage complex duties starting with engineering through to marketing the final product and participation in academic competitions like Formula Student.

The third and last phase encompasses the entire seventh semester in the last year of study (minimum duration: 450 hrs). The students have to apply to a company in the field of automotive or railway engineering and undertake an industrial internship in a specialized discipline such as design, technical computation, engine application, providing and evaluation of various tests, etc. On occasion, they have also worked as experts in insurance companies or in the marketing department of OEMs. The main challenge for the young engineers is to prove their knowledge and capabilities. However, unlike the previous two phases, this must be done in a professional and not in a student team. The colleagues from industry are experts and the projects are mostly real industrial tasks. The internship students have to work with highest responsibility, precision, innovation and reliability. Often they are instructed with investigations of new methods or even debugging of new software.

The main benefit for our students is that they can apply their special knowledge and the experiences in suitable projects. Here they collect valuable experience which helps them to choose their future professional field. The young engineers are also able in this way to select a diploma thesis topic, which is supported by the department.

The benefit for the department is that we receive a very broad response about the quality of our engineering education not only about the technical knowledge but also about our student's capability of integrating into professional teams and coping with completely new topics and tools that they have never worked before with. The main challenge is the harmonization of industrial and academic expectations and requirements that at times differ. We also have to cope with the extremely high degree of secrecy in the automotive and railway industry.


The third phase of our 3-Phase Multi Subject Project Based Learning1,2,3,5 method is a part of the degree program curriculum, Figure 1. During the industrial internship the students leave the department for at least 3 months and work under real industrial conditions. The students’ aims are to improve their technical knowledge and collect professional experience in the real world, as well as to develop specialized skills in team work, project management, communication, and customer care. The number of students participating in the first, the second and third phases varies due to drop-outs. Usually, the in the first-phase 60-65 freshmen/sophomores take part. In the next two phases, we would expect to supervise 30-40 undergraduates. -1-

Bratschitsch, E., & Millward-Sadler, A. (2009, June), Industrial Internships: The Final Part Of A Three Phase Multisubject Experiment In Project Based Learning In Vehicle Technology Studies Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4593

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