CDIO and the European Project Semester: a match for capstone projects?

CDIO and the European Project Semester: a match for capstone projects?

Benedita Malheiro, Manuel Silva, Paulo Ferreira and Pedro Guedes

The CDIO Initiative is an open innovative educational framework for engineering graduation degrees set in the context of Conceiving – Designing – Implementing – Operating real-world systems and products [1], which is embraced by a network of worldwide universities, the CDIO collaborators ( A CDIO compliant engineering degree programme, e.g. [2], typically includes a capstone module on the final semester, which can be a project, a professional internship or a combination of both. The purpose of this module is to expose students to problems of a greater dimension and complexity than those faced throughout the degree programme as well as to put them in contact with the so-called real world, in opposition to the academic world. However, even in the CDIO context, there are some barriers that tend to separate engineering capstone students from the real world context of an engineer professional: (i) limited interaction with experts from diverse scientific areas; (ii) reduced cultural and scientific diversity within the teams; and (iii) lack of a project supportive framework to foster the complementary technical and non-technical skills required in an engineer professional. To address these shortcomings, this paper proposes the adoption of the European Project Semester (EPS) framework [3], a one semester student-centred international capstone programme offered by a group of European engineering schools, the EPS Providers (, as part of their student exchange programme portfolio. EPS complies with the CDIO directives on Design-Implement Experiences5 and provides an integrated framework for undertaking capstone projects, which adopts a project and problem-based learning methodology, focuses on teamwork and exposes students to cultural, scientific and technical diversity. The EPS package is organised around one central module – the EPS project – and a set of complementary supportive modules on team building, project management, ethics and deontology, marketing and communication. The project proposals refer to multidisciplinary real world problems, i.e., draw on knowledge from diverse engineering fields, and are open, i.e., specify exclusively top level requirements such as the compliance with the applicable directives/norms and the budget. The students are organised in teams composed of four to six students from diverse engineering, business and industrial design backgrounds and nationalities and each team is fully responsible for conducting its project. Finally, in the EPS context, project supervision becomes coaching and, in the case of [4], coaching by a panel of experts from multiple scientific areas. EPS not only addresses multidisciplinary problem-solving and teamwork, but fosters communication, creativity, leadership, entrepreneurial thinking, ethical reasoning and global contextual analysis as recommended by [5]. As a result, we propose that CDIO should integrate the EPS framework for the benefit of 1st and 2nd cycle engineering capstone students, resulting in a marriage in the best interest of engineering education.

Abstract word count: 465

Keywords: engineering education, project-based learning, problem-based learning, student-centred learning, multicultural teamwork, multidisciplinary teamwork.

References 1. Crawley, E.F., Malmqvist, J., Östlund, S., Brodeur, D.R., Edström, K.: Rethinking Engineering Education. Springer International Publishing (2014) 2. Costa, A., Martins, Â., Rodrigues, F., Rocha, J.: CDIO@ISEP: "a stairway to heaven" (a CDIO contribution to EUR-ACE certification). In: Proceedings of the 8th International CDIO Conference, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. (2012) 3. Andersen, A.: Preparing engineering students to work in a global environment to co-operate, to communicate and to compete. European Journal of Engineering Education 29(4) (2004) 549-558 4. Malheiro, B., Silva, M., Ribeiro, M.C., Guedes, P., Ferreira, P.: The European Project Semester at ISEP: the challenge of educating global engineers. European Journal of Engineering Education (ahead-of-print) (2014) 1-19 5. Committee on the Engineer of 2020, Committee on Engineering Education, National Academy of Engineering: Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century. National Academies Press (2005)

Proceedings of the 11th International CDIO Conference, Chengdu, China, June 8-11 2015

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