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The Development Of Integrated Professional Skills In Aerospace Engineering Through Problem Based Learning In Design Projects

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Teaching Design

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1120.1 - 8.1120.9

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Paper Authors

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Erik De Graaff

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Gillian Saunders-Smits

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Session 2125

The development of integrated professional skills in Aerospace Engineering through problem-based learning in design projects

Gillian N. Saunders-Smits, Erik de Graaff

Faculty of Aerospace Engineering/Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands


Aeroplanes and space missions have always had an enormous appeal to the imagination of the general public. The desire of man to fly dates back to mythology in Ovid’s Daedalus and Icarus and many proud parents and grandparents tell their children about having seen the first man set foot on the moon. And as two bicycle engineers proved 100 years ago this year, engineers are detrimental in making these major achievements for mankind possible.

In the nineties major engineering multinationals such as Philips and Shell indicated that the engineers which the university delivered to them were lacking skills other than engineering skills1. These competencies can be summarised in 4 categories: - Professional knowledge and skills; - Science, technology and society abilities; - Knowledge skills regarding organization and management; - Communicative and social skills.

Representatives from international companies, the biggest employers of engineering graduates, have repeatedly stated they prefer candidates who are competent in communication skills on top of their specific engineering abilities1. Hence the educational objectives of engineering universities must be adapted to account for this new demand, which is put upon them.

Until 1995 the competencies listed above2 were not mentioned explicitly in the objectives of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Delft University of Technology. The curriculum focussed on core engineering skills only. During a programme review in 1995 when the faculty moved to a 5 year combined Bachelor and Master of Science degree new objectives were formulated which a graduate would have to meet.

Those new objectives emphasized that graduates meet the changing requirements society puts on aerospace engineers. These final objectives act as a beacon for the study Aerospace Engineering. A typical example of the new final objectives of the 5-year degree in aerospace engineering at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering of Delft University of Technology is cited below2:

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

De Graaff, E., & Saunders-Smits, G. (2003, June), The Development Of Integrated Professional Skills In Aerospace Engineering Through Problem Based Learning In Design Projects Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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