Engineering and Design: An integrated course with real world projects

Engineering and Design: An integrated course with real world projects

Rubaina Khan, M. Fikret Ercan, Noel Kristian, Soh Ying Ying and Tune Chien Jung

In our institution, Singapore Polytechnic, we have implemented several strategies to integrate various disciplines in our engineering education curriculum to help students identify the relation between distinctive engineering topics and create an avenue to discover the relevance of the material they are learning in the real world of engineering. This paper will present an integrated course, namely engineering and design, developed for electrical and mechanical engineering students at the polytechnic level. The primary objective of the course is to introduce students to design principles and application of engineering theory into real world problems. Students from two different disciplines work as a team to develop solutions. This approach demonstrates a realistic example of engineering practice earlier in their study so that when they reach their final year, students have much better world view and mature ideas for starting a capstone project. In this course, students design and build engineering artefacts by taking inspiration from real world issues. Students are in their second year of engineering study and they have already been through a practical module such as introduction to engineering or equivalent in their first year. As students have gained more experience and developed their engineering skills from previous semesters, it is considered appropriate to immerse them in solving more realistic engineering problems. The project theme is flexible and changes regularly; the current project theme is ‘water’, as students can relate to real life scenarios in Singapore’s context. This project theme presents plenty of opportunity to illustrate integration of mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering as well as math and science. The course is conducted with a team of faculty from the four disciplines mentioned above for duration of fifteen weeks. At the beginning, a selection of engineering topics, that would be beneficial to conceive and design stage in project development, are introduced with plenty of hands on activities, demonstrations and applications. Elementary fluid dynamics, flow in close conduits, water proofing techniques, data acquisition, water chemistry, water purification, are some examples that are introduced through hands-on activities. Students are expected to develop projects that exploit properties of water or addresses issues related to water (e.g. water quality, filtering, and sanitation). During the implement and operate phase of the project they are expected to deliver a working prototype. Examples of some interesting project ideas from students were a portable water quality measuring device, an amphibian robot and a swimming robot that performs snake like motions and it is designed for cleaning oil spills. The paper will present our integrative approach which provided many possibilities for experimentation, as well as practicing engineering design and application. Consequently, learning becomes more experiential which enables students to comprehend, retain and apply the knowledge better. Our preliminary evaluation results and observations show that the course is well received by the students.

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

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