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Research Projects As A Part Of A 3 Phase Multi Subject Project Based Learning In Vehicle Engineering Studies

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Approaches to Active Learning

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1040.1 - 13.1040.11



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Paper Authors

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Emilia Bratschitsch Joanneum Univeristy of Applied Sciences

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Annette Casey Joanneum University of Applied Sciences, Department of Automotive Engineering,

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Michael Trzesniowski

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

Research Projects as a Part of a 3-Phase Multi Subject Project Based Learning in Vehicle Engineering Studies Abstract

At the previous ASEE World Congress we presented an overview of our 3-phase multi subject didactical method as an integrative part of our degree program Vehicle Engineering1,2. Our work has shown that 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 of the multi subject PBL starts in the third academic year and encompasses the fifth and sixth semesters. A set of project topics is defined, based on different specialized technical subjects, with an emphasis on the development of real products. One of the most important projects is the design, assembly and testing of a real racing car. To cope with the project tasks, the students have to manage complex duties starting with the technical objectives through to marketing the final product. Sometimes they enter academic competitions to prove and to measure the quality of their work.

The main challenge of supervising juniors in this second phase of our Multi Subject Project Based Learning is that while the students are highly motivated to work on real-life engineering problems, they are often only partially able to cope with all the problems that arise because of lack of professional experience or knowledge.

This paper concentrates on the description of the second phase of the multi subject PBL and reports about our excellent projects. Each year a new student team autonomously designs, assembles and tests a real racing car in less then 150 days. The students prepare the budget, develop a marketing concept and enter the SAE Formula Student contest. They were winners over all in 2006 and set a European record in acceleration in 2007. Furthermore, the students have developed, in cooperation with their supervisors, special measures to ensure knowledge transfer between two or three team generations.


The 3-Phase Multi Subject Project Based Learning4 is a special didactical method that aims to help preparing the students for their later professional life by successive, constructive project work. In each phase we firstly assist the young engineers to identify their personal abilities in solving problems at some technical level and then we coach them to develop specific new skills. In the first phase the students work in small groups, competitive to each other. With the first phase1,2 we aim

to encourage the students to use higher order thinking skills and to learn concepts as well as basic facts; to help the students to apply theoretical knowledge in practice in a very early stage of their education;

Bratschitsch, E., & Casey, A., & Trzesniowski, M. (2008, June), Research Projects As A Part Of A 3 Phase Multi Subject Project Based Learning In Vehicle Engineering Studies Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3926

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