Evaluating engineering and product design education
Sara Linda, a 2014 City MEng graduate (Mechanical Engineering) presented "Flyable - Design of fuselage for two-seater aircraft to be flown by a disabled pilot: learning outcomes for different approaches to lectures", at the 16th International Conference on Engineering & Product Design Education. Held at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, the conference carried the theme 'Designing Education & Human Technology Relations'.
Linda's paper was co-authored by Professor of Engineering Design & Compressor Technology, Professor Ahmed Kovacevic, PhD student Sham Rane and MEng graduate Katherine Frost, who were all participants in a recent European Global Product Realisation Programme (EGPR) project involving the collaboration of five European universities and an industrial partner. The research paper explored learning outcomes for 40 undergraduate engineering students over the course of a semester from City, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, University of Ljubljana, University of Zagreb and Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne who were given the task of designing and optimising the fuselage for an aircraft made for disabled persons with Hull-based manufacturer, Condor Projects.
Linda examined the videoconferencing lectures delivered by staff through two EGPR projects.
The first project involved only engineering students, where lectures were task-based according to the design stage that the students were at, while the second project involved both engineering and product design students, with lecture content focused on developing team-building skills.
Linda and her colleagues decided to investigate how this difference in lecture content affected student satisfaction and learning outcomes; there were marked differences between projects. A questionnaire was distributed among students who had taken either or both of the EGPR projects mentioned. Information gathered included an overall rating of the lectures, a choice of preferred lectures, and reasons for certain lectures being preferred.
The results of the questionnaire showed that overall satisfaction was much higher for the first project, as the lectures helped guide the students through the design process step-by-step. The lectures around the second project were found to be enjoyable and interesting to students, but they struggled to apply the material to their own situation.
It is hoped that City's research and continued collaboration in the EGPR programme will lead to improvements in the delivery of engineering courses across Europe.
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