June 22, 2013
June 22, 2013
June 22, 2013
Invited - Student Development
21.51.1 - 21.51.12
U.Porto, its Faculty of Engineering and PBL approachesAbstractThe University of Porto (U.Porto) was founded in 1911. Its Faculty of Engineering(FEUP) is the largest school of U.Porto.U.Porto and FEUP are very active in research, development and innovation with about20% of all scientific papers in Portugal among the 15 public Universities in the country.FEUP is also aware of the important role of higher education in training futureengineers. U.Porto and FEUP have been following discussions and significant effortshave been made for promoting teacher professional development in order to guarantynew teaching/learning methodologies and initiatives to promote engineering education.Diverse initiatives came out since 2000. This work describes different projects speciallydeveloped at FEUP like the EMPE project and the FEUP project will be described andresults will be addressed. Also, a global and huge program from U.Porto, iJUP, will bepresented as very unifying interdisciplinary program at U.Porto involving togetherteachers/researchers and students from all its 14 schools, and particularly from FEUP.IntroductionThe University of Porto (U.Porto) was founded in 1911 and its roots date back to 1762.At present U.Porto has 3 campuses, 14 Faculties (Architecture; Biomedical Sciences;Dental Medicine; Economics; Engineering; Fine Arts; Humanities; Law; Medicine;Nutrition and Food Sciences; Pharmacy; Psychology and Education Sciences; Scienceand Sport) and 1 Business School, 60 R&D units. It is a public university with over31,700 students and around 3000 students are from 106 nationalities. More than 9000students are at postgraduate level (MSc and PhD). It offers 35 first cycle courses, over150 integrated or independent masters and 89 third cycle courses. The university hasover 1900 teaching & research (FTE) (76% PhD) and around 1700 technical andadministrative staff 1. Its Faculty of Engineering (FEUP), with roots dating back to1837, is the largest school at U.Porto, with over 8.700 students, 424 teaching andresearch staff (86% PhD) and 326 non-academic staff 2. FEUP is under Bologna processsince 2006. It has nine Departments: Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Computer,Industrial and Management, Informatics, Mechanical, Metallurgy and Materials, Miningand Physics Engineering. FEUP has been active in the Erasmus mobility program(1988-) and also in Mobile (2003-), and at present around 8% of its students are foreign,within 1st and 2nd cycle degrees and PhD programs.U.Porto and FEUP are very active in research, development and innovation: about 20%of all scientific papers in Portugal are from this centenary university among the 15public Universities in the country. Naturally, understanding the permanent role ofresearch in the teaching/learning process, U.Porto and FEUP have been aware of worlddevelopments in the area of higher education. In 1998 the Boyer Commission Reportentitled "Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America's ResearchUniversities” 3 formulated ten suggestions for improving undergraduate education, thefirst one being "Make research-based learning the standard". It was stated thattraditional lecturing should not be the main instructional approach in a researchuniversity, pointing that "The basic idea of learning as inquiry is the same as the idea ofresearch; even though advanced research occurs at advanced levels, undergraduatesbeginning in the freshman year can learn through research".Aware of the important role of higher education in training future engineers and so thefuture decision makers, it is mandatory to disseminate new knowledge in addition to thetraditional fundaments and to help students to develop their capabilities in order toguaranty better professional practice and more sustainable societies. U.Porto and FEUPhave been following discussions and significant efforts have been made for promotingteacher professional development since the late nineties in order to guaranty newteaching/learning methodologies and initiatives to promote students skills in groupwork, in cooperation with others, in decision-making processes, in leadership, ininterdisciplinary group integration, in intercultural experiences exchange, in society andas responsible for future sustainability 4.Problem-based learning (PBL) is a model developed at McMaster University in Canadain the late sixties which turned into a successful and innovative method for engineeringeducation 5. Since then many different types of PBL approaches appeared and U.Portoand FEUP have been following attentively new trends on innovative curricula based inPBL model, as is the case of Problem Based Learning used at Aalborg University(Denmark) since 1974, Project-Based Curriculum at Rowan University (USA) since1996, and since 2003 greatly improved by its Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship,created “combining practitioners and researchers from multiple disciplines indeveloping entrepreneurial activities” where “Rowan University can build aneducational curriculum and a support system that will greatly enhance the ability ofstudents and other key stakeholders to turn ideas into successful growth ventures” 6 oryet the Spiral Curriculum at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (USA) early experienced in1997-98 7.From this awareness different initiatives came out in FEUP and at U.Porto since 2000.In this work different projects specially developed at FEUP, like the EMPE project andthe so called Project FEUP among others, will be described and results will beaddressed. Also, a global and huge program from U.Porto, iJUP, will be presented as avery unifying interdisciplinary programme at U.Porto involving togetherteachers/researchers and students from all its 14 schools.EMPE –Exploration of Multidisciplinary Problems in EngineeringIn the last decades engineering curricula became very specialized and students wereexhibiting segmented learning and lack of integration and so more difficulty in getting acomprehensive picture of general fundaments of engineering.The use of selected multidisciplinary problems attenuates this tendency, helping tointegrate knowledge from different fields and to bring opportunity for cooperativeteaching/learning/researching, stimulating teachers and students and opening creativityand innovation 8. Inspired in these beliefs two teachers fostered a pilot multidisciplinaryopen-ended engineering problem which was deeply exploited. This was based in aneveryday and familiar object – a Coca Cola can -9 and got an extreme success andstudent involvement (mechanical, civil and communication students) in 2000/2002 atFEUP. Valuable results were obtained showing, as stated in 8, “student teamwork skillsand personal responsibility, as well as their self-organising and conflict-solvingcapabilities. It develops the students' capacity to analyse, interpret and criticise results,while integrating diverse fundamental concepts in a structured, operational way. And,last but not the least, it most often constitutes a rich learning experience for the teachersinvolved in such cooperative exercise.”This experience was used by the FEUP Dean to promote a new project named EMPE –Exploration of Multidisciplinary Problems in Engineering. EMPE was funded by FEUPwith a small amount of 19.000€ between 2003-2005, and conducted by the two teacherswith the main goal of exploring multidisciplinary problems in order to involve alldepartments and services at FEUP, bringing together teachers, students, technical staff,as well as postgraduate students. EMPE has even promoted collaboration withindifferent schools of U.Porto University. A measure of this involvement can be evaluatedby its final assets of around 1.000.000€. Such amount had been collected from allcolleagues’ contribution based in works going on and shared with EMPE activities.The project started with a team of two responsible teachers, 16 collaborating teachersand 2 students. The initial topics of the project were the following: • A Coca Cola Can – a small structure - new developments • Static and dynamic behaviour of structures • Level monitoring and control • Development of data transfer using internet capabilities • Wireless sensors • Development of EMPE webpage for disseminating engineering activities at STEM level and for engineering students.During this two-year project more than 18 articles involving students were written andmore than 12 presentations in conferences were made, 3 e-books were published.Students and teachers were invited speakers for disseminating the project in more than13 Seminars/Workshop/Conferences. Within EMPE activities 4 MSc theses werefinished (2 years pre-Bologna MSc.). Its developed works involved 18 disciplines inregular degrees and 3 in MSc. Therefore, 6 MSc. were joining forces with EMPE. Thecollaborations involved all areas at FEUP and 6 Faculties at U.Porto, the centralservices at U.Porto and one Associated Laboratory, 8 other public higher educationInstitutions in Portugal and Budapest University.This has been an important seed at FEUP for institutional collaborations, socializationof staff and students, opening the door for other initiatives and other projectcooperation. EMPE was followed by Experimenta@FEUP for consolidating remote labsat FEUP, in 2006-2008 10, crossing different areas. Other projects were also supportedfor increasing the PBL approach.The “Project FEUP”In May 2004, two years before the Bologna process was implemented at FEUP, the socalled “Project FEUP” was approved by FEUP pedagogical board, conceived by Prof.Carlos Costa, the FEUP’s Dean between 2001 and 2010. The main goal has been toguide carefully the first steps of every new student arriving at FEUP each year since thiscould be decisive for his/her future along the graduation process and to help students tounderstand the impact of engineers in the society, the engineers task in solvingproblems, and the need for professional ethics and social competences, in line withmany others initiatives in the world 11, 12, 13, 14.The “Project FEUP” was conceived with the help of a couple of other teachers to be theopening door to a new stage in students life in order to make possible their integrationinto the FEUP working process also helping the development of students soft skillssince the very beginning. This initiative is involving the new comers to nine courseswithin FEUP - this means around 1000 students/year. This is the biggest discipline atFEUP. Figure 1 shows the distribution by course and numbers related to the academicyear 2011/12.Project FEUP is a half semester discipline and has 2 ECTS (European Credit Transferand Accumulation System) 15 this is, equivalent to 50–60 hours of study (ECTS System“has been adopted in all EU countries for facilitating the transfer and the progressionthroughout the European Union independently of standard or qualification type used ineach country”). The discipline has 92 Professors and Tutors (more than half areteachers). Tutors are students from last years. This is an interesting example of acoaching and a monitoring process. The coaching approach is achieved between theProject FEUP responsible teacher and other collaborating colleagues and the mentoringapproach is performed between project FEUP teachers’ team and older students, asTutors.In the first week theoretical and practical topics are concentrated. Students also have tocontact with topics in which each group of 6 elements will be working along thefollowing 4 weeks (supervised by a teacher and a tutor). Then, each group has to make afinal presentation in a Congress environment.During the first lecturing week students have to face subjects as: • Specific training on professional of non-technical skills: Writing in engineering Effective Communication Visual Communication Specific topics include ethics, plagiarism, quotation styles, etc. • Additionally, special initial training is also conveyed on: Campus' Information System Effective Learning The course also includes team work about a specific topic within the scope of the program the student was accepted in. Fig 1 --- Students in theoretical classesThe communication is concentrated in 3 main topics: oral and written communicationand visual communication, using posters as a tool. In oral communication students workaspects as voice training, how to write a guide for a subject communication were theyalso train the “story telling” approach. In the writing aspects the main point is how tomake a report: typical structure, references and plagiarism problems. The postercomplexity is considered at visual and graphical levels and also at the essential messagesynthesis. The result of these subjects will come out in the end of the discipline wheneach team of students will have to produce a scientific report, a poster and an oralpresentation according to the proposed “Problem” within a topic related with eachstudent Integrated Master Degree, in the bases of a PBL methodology 16, 17,18. This“Problem” will be followed by the supervising teacher and by a tutor and has to bedeveloped by students during 4 weeks. The report, the poster and the oralcommunication will be evaluated by teachers and will contribute for the final mark. Atthe theoretical classes student attendance is controlled by RFID and in the practicalclasses by registration in Moodle platform.A sample of some topics related with some of the degrees and respective proposedproblems are used just as single example in Table I.Table I – Single sample of topics and proposed problemsIntegrated Master Topic Proposed ProblemEnvironment Engineering Impact of weather changes in Evaluation based in measured Portugal parameters by monitoring systemsCivil Engineering Evolution of building Which are the most recent technologies building technologies?Electronic and Computer Distribution of Electrical Power System Protection and suitabilityEngineering at FEUP for each output?Mechanical Engineering Renewable Energy and New trends in Energy Sustainable Development production based in renewable energy resourcesChemical Engineering Production Power generation from biomass …… …… ……Looking to the survey performed in the academic year 2011-12, it gives us manyinteresting aspects as students’ integration in the workplace and in FEUP structure andculture, their experience in cooperating in new group activities, workload management,etc. Therefore it shows that the initial expectation of students in different dimensions isvery high. However, their final satisfaction in the same dimensions is not so high! But,simultaneously, it also shows that the final success rate is very high!In fact, considering the global number of students enrolled in the discipline 1055,among those 781 from first enrolment phase, only 12 have not been approved at the endof the discipline, this means only 1.5%! And, the substantial number of 638 (82%)students got marks higher than 14 (in 20), this means 82%. Combining these twosomehow disagreeing results a reason came out and it might be related with thediscipline’s short duration combined with its low weight (2 ECTS), Fig. 2. Fig 2 - Students, courses and numbers at Project FEUP 2011/12The huge number of staff elements involved as well as older students (over 90 people)and student time constraints coming from Bologna process are the main reasons for itbeing impossible to design FEUP Project as one semester long with a more significantnumber of ECTS. Following up the effect of this work it also has not such a strongeffect as expected in the students’ performance in writing, oral and visualcommunication skills. And a reason for this is related with the fact that just only in finalyears students are asked to show these skills. This aspect is also difficult to overcomebecause this would need the collaboration of all teaching staff at FEUP immediatelyafter this effort of students’ initiation in good practices.iJUP – Young Research at U.Porto“The University mission is mainly oriented to the constant advancement of knowledgeand innovation, helping human development and also contributing directly to thesociety in which it is integrated. The actors of this mission are the University academicsand students.” 19“Research based learning should play a paramount role in higher education, all the moreso in research universities. In 1998 the Boyer Commission Report entitled ReinventingUndergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America's Research Universities3 formulatedten suggestions for improving undergraduate education, the first one being Makeresearch-based learning the standard". It was argued that the lecture should not be theprimary mode of instruction at a research university.4“Being aware of the importance of undergraduate research, in a pioneering initiative inPortugal U.Porto started in 2004 an annual programme entitled Scientific Research atUndergraduate Level aimed at student involvement in research and developmentactivities from freshman level onwards. Based on the perception that only throughresearch can science knowledge be fully and lively understood, the original programmeand its subsequent evolution (iJUP) are the brainchild of the last two vice-rectors incharge of R&D policies at U.Porto.”19This program works as a typical research program. It opens with a call for submissions.Any U.Porto Ph.D teacher is free of submitting a proposal based in a structured worklike a small project with a defined budget, a team involving some colleagues andstudents and, if possible, an external institution as industrial labs, enterprises, … andother faculties from U.Porto. The submissions are later evaluated and results areofficially published. The project is, itself, the way to remember or convey knowledge, toexercise concepts and bring them to practice, to exercise problem solving capabilities, tobe critical and creative, to learn and exercise teamwork competences and to developcommunication skills, as well as good experience in convey knowledge, mainly if theteam is strongly multidisciplinary. They bring excellent opportunities for practicing themillenary way of building knowledge: learning by doing, thinking and analyzing theresult of what was done, correcting problems and redoing solutions in a naturalcooperation with teachers. This is a precious process experienced by students leadingthem to acquire metacognitive skills.Recently, a former student now working as a R&D research engineer in an researchinterface institute at FEUP wrote “These activities during the first years of the author’sdegree have helped to overcome many of the freshman subjects related withmathematics and conceptual knowledge and turned possible to understand engineeringin a much more realistic way than by solving only theoretical problems using paper andpencil.” Looking for his experience integrating this type of projects he writes “Thisexperience allowed the author to contact with his teachers in a different base than that intraditional classes, and offered him the capability of discussing solutions and doubtswith teachers and colleagues in a team framework. These experiences have been veryenthusiastic mainly because he was free to find solutions, often making mistakes and sohe got the great opportunity of learning with them. And, in this process the author had along way to go in finding, guessing, studying, getting the problem key and gatheringinformation about solutions for solving each specific problem. In fact, this was greatbecause the author was normally impressed and shocked by the fact that in traditionalengineering teaching students usually have to solve problems and get the correctsolution! … In relation to the students within the team framework the author becameable to understand the differences between the team elements… how to work as a teamby distributing tasks and how to get how to get the most from each other ... Also, theconcept of individual responsibility as a member of the team in charge of one task wasperceived. This was also a great opportunity to understand and judge the author’s owncapabilities and limitations in order to overcome many of them and then widen hisknowledge and abilities20… The author also had his first opportunity for collaboratingin a techno-scientific article21 submitted to the International iJUP 2009 meeting. In thismeeting of more than 700 participants, the author was in contact with Brazilian studentsand teachers, and also with students and teachers from all the faculties of PortoUniversity and form ERASMUS Mobility programs, by getting in touch with so manydistinct projects from all knowledge areas. In fact, it has been important to understandthat architecture, humanities, medicine, sports, arts, are areas where engineering needsto be present. This experience contributed again for broadening the author’sperspectives flexibility to new ideas and creativity. … helped the author to understandthe different researchers’ roles within a team, from those oriented for new technologicalaspects to the ones engaged with project organization, coordination and overallintegration of activities and for the group discussions in major project decisions.”20Since 2004 the submissions to iJUP Program have increased consistently according tofig. 3 350 300 Oral Comum. 250 Poster Pres. Contributions 200 150 100 50 0 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 YearFig. 3 - Submissions to and approvals of iJUP Fig. 4 – Presentations @ iJUP editionsProgram iJUP has another component – iJUP Meeting – where students are introducedto an International Conference experience. Every February, a 3-day event bringstogether Portuguese and international mobility students in this program as well asinvited foreign institutions. During these days students present communications andposters in English, previously written and submitted as in a regular conference wherethey have to answer to audience questions. Proceedings from the last 4 editions havebeen published by Elsevier and are available at http://ijup.up.pt. Figure 4 illustrates theevolution of communications at iJUP Meetings since 2008. In 2012 the contributionsreached the number of 498 and in the present iJUP 2013, there was 463 with 966registrations. During iJUP Meetings, selected topics are presented by senior teachers orby young successful researchers. A short view from the event prepared for this work isavailable at http://tv.up.pt/videos/D1aL9Hbz. This Program has received along the yearssince 2004 financial support from Foundations, Banks and Enterprises.The author has been involved either as leader or as team element in different projectssince its very beginning in 2004. Table II lists the author related projects.Table II – Author’s involvement in iJUP Program Nº Year Topic 1 2004 Use of optical fibers for temperature and strain monitoring of a carbon fiber reinforced polymer along and after the curing process (Team element) 2 2004 Development of a displacement transducer for civil engineering applications (Leader) 3 2005 Displacement transducer for monitoring applications in civil engineering (Team element) 4 2005 Micro Displacement Remote Measurement (Leader) 5 2007 StrucTools – Experimental and virtual tools for teaching structural mechanics (Team element) 6 2007 Development of a Hand Grip Dynamometer for Nutritional Assessment (Team element) 7 2007 Virtual instrumentation for monitoring, digital recording and assessing body composition (Leader) 8 2009 LipoTool: the Mechanical design of a new Calliper (Team element) 9 2009 SeepTool – Small scale model for seepage studies (Team element) 10 2009 Optical Fibre Pressure Sensor for Small Scale Studies of Groundwater Flow (Team element) 11 2012 DINAM – Validation of a new prototype dynamometer for evaluation of hand grip strength (running) (Leader) 12 2012 LabVIH – Virtual labs with haptic interaction (running) (Team element)Table III shows for each project the involvements: academics (R), Students (S) andTechnicians (T). It is possible to identify teams multidisciplinarity. With budgets below5.000€ (usually around 3000€), it is clear that nothing would have been achieved withoutthe enthusiastic, committed and generous participation of many colleagues, students andtechnicians from several Faculties, Departments, Services, Laboratories, Institutes andResearch Centers. Table III – Projects in Table II and Teams 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Mech. Eng. RS RS RS RS R RS RS RS RS RS RS RS Elect. Eng. S R Physic. Eng. R Inform. Eng. S RS RS S Civil Eng. RS RS R RS R Nutrition RS RS RS RS Multimed. Techn. S S S S Physics RS RS S Sports RS RS Architecture S Psychology RS CIAFEL R INESCP R R R INEGI TR CATIM T/S T T T Computer Center T Mech. Workshops T T T T T T Phys. Workshops T T INESCP Instit. of Syst.& Comput. Eng. Porto (Optoelectron. Group) INEGI Institute of Mechanical Engineering & Industrial Management CATIM Support Center for the Metal-Mechanics Industry CIAFEL Research Centre in Physical Activity, Health & LeisureOutcomes of these already finished 10 small projects resulted in 9 prototypes, 5 softwareapplications, 2 awards. Later developments undertaken by researchers added 2 nationalpatents and another 2 (at national and international level) are pending. One of theprototypes is spread in different research groups and, presently, a protocol betweenU.Porto and an enterprise, is permitting its market evaluation. Ten articles were writtenin collaboration with students. Collaborations were germinated meanwhile and all theseinvolvements were seeds for other projects between research groups. Some studentsengaged Ph.D. programs and many of them still remember those participations andconsider them as important aspects of their student life.Final CommentsPBL approaches are offered at U.Porto and at FEUP in a voluntary base for those moreproactive students or in a curricular discipline for all students as is the case of “ProjectFEUP”. This last one proved to be very important for helping new comers to FEUP,offering them better integration with mathematics and conceptual knowledge and amore realistic way of understanding how to work within FEUP and giving opportunityfor learning many important aspects for their future life as students. On the other hand,the examples of EMPE project or iJUP Program increase drastically the studentsproblem solving ability, how to apply learning, metacognitive skills, teamwork skills,communication and visual skills, the role of engineering in the society. For teachers it isgrateful to perceive their student changes in attitude and in motivation.In the present Integrated Master Degrees students have to realize a final project for theirMSc theses in just 6 months. Currently their theses work is within R&D teams. Othertimes, they have to make their work in Industry. In both cases they need definitely toprove their communication and teamwork skills and to understand professional practice.Once again the experience they get from the referred initiatives is instrumental for asuccessful conclusion of their study cycle.Bibliography1 https://sigarra.up.pt/feup/en/web_base.gera_pagina?p_pagina=2470262 http://sigarra.up.pt/up/en/WEB_BASE.GERA_PAGINA?p_pagina=1223503 E.L. Boyer, The Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University,Reinventing undergraduate education: A blueprint for America's research universities. Stony Brook, NY,1998.4 E. Berkes, Higher Education Sustainability Initative for Rio+20, http://escholarship.org/uc/item/7tr4c62k5 Erik de Graff and Anette Kolmos, Characteristics of Problem-Based Learning, Int. J. Engineering Ed.Vol. 19, No. 5, pp. 657-662, 20036 Rowan University, Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurshiphttp://www.rowan.edu/colleges/business/cie/aboutus.html7 William M. Clark, David DiBiasio, and Anthony G. Dixon, An integrated, project-based, spiralcurriculum for the first year of chemical engineering, FIE '98 Proceedings, 28th Annual Frontiers inEducation - Volume03, Page 1062, 1998.8 José Couto Marques, Teresa Restivo, Pedro Portela, Ricardo Teixeira, Cooperative Teaching Exploring aMultidisciplinary Engineering Problem, (2002), ASEE Annual Conference, Canadá, June 2002.9 The Aluminium Beverage Can, W. F. Hosford and J. L. 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Restivo, T. (2013, June), Invited Paper - University of Porto, its Faculty of Engineering and Project Based Learning (PBL) Approaches Paper presented at 2013 ASEE International Forum, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/17256
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