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Electric kart project to develop research-related skills for engineering students

Book Contribution - Book Chapter Conference Contribution

Nowadays, an engineering curriculum not only provides solid scientific and technical skills, also more generic competences are important. Therefore when educating engineering students, the organization of a learning trajectory stimulating problem and project based learning is mandatory. This learning trajectory includes several intermediate steps, i.e. classical laboratory sessions, a multidisciplinary project work, project based laboratories and a final master thesis. Throughout the learning trajectory, the principle of instructional scaffolding is implemented i.e. the students gradually develop autonomous learning strategies in a sequence of projects characterized by an increasing complexity. The multidisciplinary project work is performed in the third semester of the academic bachelor program when the students already have a basic scientific and technical background. Project groups of five or six students are supervised by a coach. The main goal is the development of a whole range of cognitive, meta-cognitive and social competences in combination with technical and research-related skills. The students have been involved in various innovative projects. In particular, the development of an electric kart is an attractive approach. Designing and building an electric kart within the scope of a project work is not new and many experiences are described in literature. Here, a different teaching approach is used starting from a kart in working order. During the first semesters of the academic years 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 the project mainly focused on condition monitoring and EMC-related aspects that are closely related with the research activities at KU Leuven. In this way, engineering research and education are linked, resulting in stimulating research-based learning. Since the starting up of the multidisciplinary project work in the academic year 2005-2006, a number of evaluations of this project work have been performed among the students and they agree the project work helps them to develop ?soft' skills. Evaluations by the student groups participating the electric kart project reveal they were successful teams although they experienced time pressure, they had the possibility to gain new knowledge and to make technical choices, they needed to reflect critically about the research results, satisfaction concerning the transparency of the evaluation system including the peer- and self-assessment.
Book: 43rd Annual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education
Pages: 53534 - 53534
Publication year:2015