Workspace Benchmarking

As with any redesign process, the first step must be the collation and critical analysis of the current product. In the context of implementing one or more CDIO workspaces, this will involve a survey of existing workspaces and associated equipment and utilities. Existing workspaces are likely to be either traditional workshops or formal laboratory space and are unlikely to be suitable for the type of design-build experience encouraged by the CDIO curriculum.

A comprehensive survey of existing workspaces has been documented by Wallin and Östlund. [Wallin, H-P. and Östlund, S., “CDIO Workshops and Laboratories Survey for the Vehicle Engineering Program at Royal Institute of Technology, KTH”, Technical Report, Department of Vehicle Engineering, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden, 2002] While a more general survey of workspaces has been conducted by Gunnerson et. al. [Gunnarsson, S., Eles, P., Krantz-Rülcker, T. and Frykman, P., "Survey of Laboratory Exercises within the Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering (Y) program at Linköping University," Technical Report, Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering, Linköping University.]

In addition to collecting factual information Wallin and Östlund discuss the allocation of usage modes to the areas being surveyed. Not only does this assist with understanding the current use, but it is also a good starting point for the redesign of the areas at a later stage. Usage modes are also discussed in more detail by other authors involved in the CDIO initiative. See the References area of this iKit Section.

Workspace Design

It is importance to remember that the function of workspaces is to support the curriculum, and they must therefore be designed as part of the curricular design process. General brainstorming and dialogue among faculty members, before the design process begins, is strongly recommended.

During the design process, it is important to formulate ideas and examine them in detail in order to identify flaws or potential problems. Furthermore, one should not underestimate the value in allowing workspaces to evolve over time rather than over-designing them at the start.

Guidance on the design of CDIO workspaces can be found in the list of essential and desirable workshop attributes, and the workspace design checklist, both of which appear below.

Workspace Attributes

  • facilitate student learning of CDIO skills
  • encourage hands-on learning of product and system building, disciplinary knowledge and social learning
  • facilitate group activities, social interaction and communication
  • provide adequate training opportunities
  • comply with local health and safety regulations
  • provide a sustainable resource
  • organized and managed by students
  • provide flexible equipment and activities
  • facilitate access to students outside normal class hours
  • provide access to modern tools, equipment and software

Workspace Design Checklist

  • how many subjects/courses are to be accommodated?
  • what will be the maximum number of students during a session?
  • how frequently will it be used?
  • how much space is required?
  • will the workspace be single- or multi-purpose?
  • what equipment will be required?
  • will the activities be supervised and/or independent?
  • will storage/security be required for work in progress?
  • how much control will the students have over the workspace?
  • what will be the cost of establishing and running the workspace?
  • who will be liable for any exceptional costs?
  • what personnel will be required?
  • what equipment will be required?
  • who will be responsible for maintenance and cleaning?
  • how will the scheduling/booking be handled?
  • will any confidential work be undertaken?
  • what are the implications of health and safety regulations?
  • is the workspace sustainable in the long-term?
  • what limitations will there be on student access?
  • will students be able to book the room?
  • will it be available for faculty/students/public?
  • how will access be fairly allocated?
  • will different groups have access to different areas?
  • how will it interact with other teaching/learning facilities?

Workspace Implementation

It is clear that workspace supportability, sustainability, and continuous improvements are important aspects to the educational effectiveness of the CDIO pedagogical strategy. An extensive survey of operational CDIO workspaces suggested the following guidelines:

  • stress safety at all times
  • provide 24/7 access to workspaces once all safety concerns have been addressed
  • be sensitive to varying skill and learning attributes of students, which will require differing levels of supervision
  • have backup systems for hardware and software implementation
  • be aware of ways to improve efficiency, productivity, usage, training, and safety.
  • coordinate materials and parts orders with course instructors
  • reduce the risk of new courses as much as possible by completing a dry run
  • controlling operating budgets is a continuing challenge
  • budget for replacement of raw materials, supplies and other consumables
  • instill a sense of responsibility for equipment and materials into users
  • ensure all necessary tools and supplies are available at the start of each project
  • provide dedicated workspaces for each team with inventoried tools and supplies, for which the teams are individually responsibile
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