June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.1140.1 - 12.1140.10
Overcoming the Hurdles Associated with Industry Sponsorship of Multidisciplinary, Project-Based Learning
As engineering education at the undergraduate level continues to evolve, the support structure required for techniques such as Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is expanding to include not only the Department, College, and University levels, but also significant commitments from industrial partners. Through our experience in developing an Industry/University Consortium for biomedical device companies, we believe that industry provides an enabling means for framing Problem-Based Learning within a Multidisciplinary, Project-Based context that exposes engineering students, working in teams across multiple disciplines, to meaningful, real-world challenges. Industry provides the project topics and technical mentors, while projects are self- selected by students based upon a match with their background skills and educational goals. While the benefits are clear, there are a number of challenges in establishing and maintaining the deep level of required industrial interaction (which goes far beyond the traditional dollar-based definition of “sponsorship”). This paper discusses the hurdles that we have overcome, including Intellectual Property ownership policies, developing an infrastructure that allows for simultaneous work on the confidential projects of competing companies, buy-in from faculty in multiple departments, and the critical need for champions in the university and at each company. The paper concludes with a case study that illustrates the typical project-based learning “pipeline” in this model, whereby an engineering student forms an expanding relationship with a company and a multidisciplinary team through early, simple projects, progressing through an on- site industrial CO-OP and culminating with a team Senior Project or Masters Thesis.
Problem-Based Learning within a Multidisciplinary, Industrial Project-Based Context
California Polytechnic State University has an earned reputation as a proponent of the hands-on, laboratory-based, learn-by-doing approach to education. We have also won a reputation as a college whose students are steeped in open-ended problems and underpinned by an understanding of design and the process of design. As part of our newly-created Biomedical & General Engineering Department, it was our goal to implement Problem Based Learning (PBL) within a larger, industry project-based context. Based on our experience with industry as a key partner in establishing a new program and department, we approached industry sponsorship from a broader perspective than the traditional dollar-based definition. We see industry as providing an enabling set of resources for a growing curricular program: a source of truly multidisciplinary project topics, technical mentors, and supporting infrastructure that expose engineering students, working in teams across multiple disciplines, to meaningful, real-world challenges.
PBL has been defined as “learning which results from the process of working towards the understanding of, or resolution of, a problem.”1 PBL has been an extremely successful model for medical education: over 80% of medical schools currently use some form of Problem-Based Learning2. Although primarily applied to the biological sciences to date, PBL is an appropriate methodology for technology education3; our experiences with multidisciplinary student teams working on industry-provided challenges in a Problem-Based Learning environment confirm
Crockett, R., & Whited, J., & Walsh, D. (2007, June), Overcoming The Hurdles Associated With Industry Sponsorship Of Multidisciplinary, Project Based Learning Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/1959
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